Somehow I tend to think that California parents are different than parents in other parts of the US. That, being in an area where it’s sunny year-around and pleasant, and filled with new-agey families, that somehow our kids will end up robust and healthy, not like all those people in those 4-season-states where they spend too much time indoors to avoid the freezing temperatures.
However, a recent Permanente survey shows that 7% of elementary-school boys and 5% of elementary-school girls are already packing on the pounds at their young ages, and may already be setting themselves up for a lifetime of trouble–both socially and medically.
Corinna Koebnick, the leader of the study, is a nutritionist and research scientist for Kaiser right down in Pasadena. According to her, “A 10-year-old boy is supposed to weigh around 70 pounds, and an extremely obese 10-year-old weighs 114 pounds. That’s not merely a cosmetic issue. There’s growing evidence that being obese in childhood raises the risk of a host of serious health problems in adulthood, including heart disease and diabetes. These children will likely continue to be extremely obese adults.” Sad to say, you know she’s right.
710,949 children were studied from 2007 and 2008. Of these children, 37% were overweight, 19% were obese and 6% were considered extremely obese. I think these numbers are staggering!! That means over half the kids were fat, some dangerously so! As a physician with an adult weight management program in my practice, I am deeply concerned about the illnesses that these kids are going to experience because of their obesity. Yes, the Obama administration has targeted $10 billion over the next 10 years to improve school lunches and it’s true that alot of school lunches leave a great deal to be desired, that’s not going to make a dent for those kids who are overweight right now and who are in need of immediate changes.
What should you do to prevent obesity in your kids or nip it in the bud if it’s already happening?
- Know your child’s BMI. If looking at your kids doesn’t tell you whether or not they are overweight, then their Body Mass Index will. Ask your pediatrician to measure your child’s BMI or, better yet, visit an online child BMI calculator and you’ll know right away.
- Quit buying sugary beverages—even something as good as orange juice still has alot of sugar in it, but at least it’s missing the chemicals in soft drinks and sugary “fruit drinks”. Sparkling water is a wonderful alternative if you can get your kids to drink it–add some pure fruit juice to it and it will be similar to fruity soda. These fruit spritzers are refreshing but low in both calories and refined carbs.
- Get your kids busy and out of the house. Play, play, play. Play with them. They will do what you do. If you are a couch potato, they’ll be couch potatoes. Not only will getting out and playing with the kids contribute to better health for both of you but it will contribute to great time as a family too, and who wouldn’t benefit from that?