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Nutrition and Wellness — Child Obesity

Saturday 30 January 2010, by Buddhachannel Eng.

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Nutrition and Wellness


Nutrition affects our health in a variety of ways. Diet therapy, which is the cornerstone in the management of weight control and and high blood pressure, is discussed below.

Overweight in children is one of the most alarming health problems in the US today and is incidence of overweight youth continues to increase at an alarming rate. According to the 2003-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), an estimated 17 percent of children and adolescents ages 2-19 years are overweight. This represents a two- to three-fold increase in the rate of overweight children and adolescents over the past thirty years.

Many overweight children are experiencing health problems, especially type 2 diabetes . They are also at risk for future chronic diseases such as osteoarthritis, adult obesity and heart disease.

What Can Parents Do?
What Research is Telling Parents: Child Diet and Eating Behavior
New studies are always coming out that provide doctors with the latest knowledge on all kinds of medical subjects. This section will give you the inside scoop on recent developments in key areas of the nutritional research front to help you raise a healthy child.

EATING TOO MUCH
Preschool-age children who did not regulate how much they ate and drank (especially a high-calorie sugary beverage) during mealtime were more likely to be overweight. Overweight Children may have more trouble controlling their food intake compare to that of children who have a healthy weight.
When given larger portions, most overweight children took larger bites and ate larger quantities than what they normally eat.

What to do?
Realize that as a parent, you have a powerful influence over how much your child eats. Feed your child age-appropriate portions, which are usually smaller than those served to adults.

LIMITING FRUIT JUICE
Children who drink too much fruit juice may consume less nutrients needed for growth and development. They may also have more dental caries and and digestion problems. Many studies have linked drinking too much fruit juice with increased risk of childhood overweight.

What to do?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that 100% fruit juice should be limited to 4-6 ounces per day for children. Incidentally, one 8 ounce cup of 100% fruit juice contains 115 calories, which is approximately the same amount of calories as those found in 1 cup of fruit-flavored beverages or regular soda.

EATING FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
Greater availability and accessibility to fruits and vegetables at home can significantly boost children’s intake of these nutrient-packed foods. Both parents and children eat more fruits and vegetables when they were served at meals and snacks consumed at home.

What to do?
Make fruits more “visible” by placing a fruit bowl on the kitchen counter or table. Make produce ready-to-eat by stocking washed, pre-cut fruits and vegetables in the refrigerator. Serve one or more types of fruits and vegetables at every meal.

BEWARE OF TELEVISION ADVERTISING
Children who watch more than two hours of TV daily are exposed to a significant amount of food advertising, which can negatively influence their food choices and increase their risk of becoming overweight. For example, almost half of TV ads on children’s networks promote unhealthy foods, especially fast food, sugary cereals and candy. Children between the ages 4-12 spend five times more of their own money today on sweets, snacks, and sugary beverages compared to young consumers’ food purchases over a decade ago.

What to do?
Cut down TV time! The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends less than 2 hours total per day spent in front of a TV or computer. Your child may also experience physical, academic and behavioral benefits from watching less TV.

FAST FOOD = CALORIE SURPLUS
Overweight children tend to consume more calories from fast food. Considering that the average large-sized fast food meal contains 2200 calories, the weight-gaining potential of a single fast food meal is tremendous. Incidently, 2200 calories is approximately how many calories an individual burns running a marathon.

What to do?
Limit the amount of fast food that your family eats to no more than twice a month. Prepare homemade meals in advance to avoid the temptation of ordering fast food.

EAT YOUR BREAKFAST
Several studies have shown that children who eat breakfast weigh less and are less likely to be overweight than those who skip the morning meal. Breakfast eaters also have higher intakes of fiber, calcium and vitamin C than those who skip this morning meal. Children also perform better academically when they eat a healthy breakfast.

What to do?
Make sure your child eats breakfast every morning. Eat whole grain cereal, low-fat milk and fresh fruit for a quick and healthy breakfast.


- References: Read the research for yourself!




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