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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Childhood Obesity

Much research is being done on childhood obesity. In today's society, with kids being constantly bombarded on TV with commercials advertising fast food and high fat/calorie snacks, it's no wonder there seems to be an epidemic of childhood obesity.

Most of the 27 National Institutes of Health Institutes and Centers sponsor obesity and healthy weight research. Among their recent findings:

Children who are obese are far more likely to develop stiffer large arteries than children who are leaner, according to a study funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Stiff arteries are associated with atherosclerosis, a condition in which blood vessels become clogged and one that usually doesn't occur until adulthood. Exercise and lower body mass can improve the condition, according to the study.

Two recent studies published in the journal Pediatrics show that minority children have higher levels of obesity than their white counterparts. They also show more signs of inflammation, which in adults is associated with heart disease. Twenty percent of black and Hispanic children ages 2 to 19 are obese. Fifteen percent of white children are obese, according to the study. Factors such as infant eating and sleeping habits, mothers who smoke during pregnancy, and a dozen other circumstances were examined as a part of the study. This research was funded by NIH's National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities.

Researchers are looking at whether or not the risks for childhood obesity could actually start before birth. The subject needs more rigorous testing, but suggests that earlier interventions among infants and toddlers who become obese need to be a part of infant care. The research was funded by NIH's National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Here are a few tips for healthier eating for kids:

Buy and serve more fruits and vegetables (fresh, frozen, canned, or dried). Let your child choose them at the store.

Buy fewer soft drinks and high-fat or high-calorie snack foods like chips, cookies, and candy. These snacks may be OK once in a while, but always keep healthy snack foods on hand. Offer the healthy snacks more often at snack times.

Make sure your child eats breakfast every day. Breakfast provides your child with the energy he or she needs to listen and learn in school. Skipping breakfast can leave your child hungry, tired, and looking for less healthy foods later in the day.

Eat fast food less often. When you do visit a fast food restaurant, encourage your family to choose the healthier options, such as salads with low-fat dressing or small sandwiches without cheese or mayonnaise.

I found some great information on healthfinder.gov on helping your kids maintain a healthy weight. Visit http://healthfinder.gov/prevention/PrintTopic.aspx?topicId=62 for more information.

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