Tag Archives: Obesity

Childhood Obesity in South Dakota

Childhood obesity in South Dakota has quadrupled in adolescents and more than doubled in children over the last 30 years. This infographic illustrates some of the contributing factors and what we can do to support healthy behaviors that can lower the risk of becoming obese and developing related diseases.

 

New Obesity Weapon: Kids Teaching Kids

Children more likely to listen to peers than adults, study suggests.

When older kids teach younger children about nutrition and the benefits of exercise, the little ones seem to lose weight and gain knowledge about healthy living, Canadian researchers report. Such a program — called Healthy Buddies — was tested in Manitoba elementary schools. It helped heavy kids lose an average of half an inch off their waist and increased their knowledge of diet and exercise, the researchers said.

“Engaging older youth in delivering health messages to younger peers is an effective method for preventing weight gain, improving knowledge of healthy living and increasing self-esteem,” said lead researcher Jonathan McGavock, an assistant professor at the University of Manitoba. “The effects of this peer mentoring model of healthy living promotion is particularly effective for overweight children,” McGavock said.

This approach — detailed online in the Feb. 10 issue of the journal JAMA Pediatrics — could help curb the obesity epidemic among young children in North America, he said. The percentage of U.S. children aged 6 to 11 considered obese increased from 7 percent in 1980 to nearly 18 percent in 2010, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

McGavock said younger children see older children as role models, which is why their advice is taken more seriously than when the same message is delivered by adults. “Younger children likely pay more attention to messages or cues from older peers,” he said. “Therefore, proper role modeling of healthy behaviors should be a key objective of elementary schools.”

Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center in New Haven, Conn., said he wasn’t surprised by the findings. “In my many interactions with parents regarding the importance of good nutrition in childhood, one of the more frequent protests over the years has been peer pressure,” Katz said. “Parents, it seems, often feel powerless to overcome the negative influence of peers eating badly.” But Katz, a father of five, said he has seen the upside of peer pressure. “My wife and I have shared our devotion to healthy living with our children, and they have made it their own,” he said. “They, in turn, have helped pay it forward, influencing their peers favorably.”

This paper illustrates the opportunity to convert negative peer pressure into a positive peer influence, Katz said. “We can teach healthy living skills to older kids and they, of course, benefit,” he said. “They can then help pass these skills along to younger kids, and both groups benefit some more. This paper highlights an important opportunity we have only begun to leverage — peer pressure, for good.”

Healthy Buddies has lessons that focus on physical activity, healthy eating, self-esteem and body image. The instruction is given by 9- to 12-year-olds to 6- to 8-year-olds. In this study, 19 schools were randomly assigned to use the Healthy Buddies curriculum or their regular instruction during the 2009-’10 school year. Over the course of the school year, the researchers looked at changes in waist size and body-mass index (BMI), as well as physical activity, heart fitness, self-image and knowledge about healthy living and diet. They found that the waist size of children in the Healthy Buddies program dropped an average of half an inch compared with children in the regular curriculum. There was no difference in BMI — a measurement of fat based on height and weight — between the groups.

Based on responses to questionnaires, knowledge about healthy living, self-image and diet increased among kids in the Healthy Buddies program, compared with other children, the researchers said. No differences, however, were seen between the groups in terms of physical activity (steps taken per day) or heart and lung fitness, the researchers said. This suggests that the reduction in waist size seen among the Healthy Buddies participants is attributable to dietary changes, the researchers said.

Source: Health Day News; New Obesity Weapon: Kids Teaching Kids by Steven Reinberg

Parents of Obese Children Underestimate Weight?

Half the parents of overweight or obese children don’t think their kids have a weight problem, a new analysis reveals.

A review of 69 previous studies found that nearly 51 percent of parents with overweight or obese children tended to underestimate their child’s excess weight.

“They thought their children were of normal weight when their children’s BMI indicated that they are either overweight or obese,” said Dr. Rachel Thornton, a clinical pediatrician and assistant professor of pediatrics at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

“In my clinical practice, I am not surprised by that finding,” said Thornton, who was not involved with the study. “Parents tend to think a child who is overweight is actually normal weight.”

Body-mass index (BMI) is a measurement of body fat based on height and weight.

The effect went the other way as well, according to researcher Alyssa Lundahl and colleagues at the University of Nebraska. They conducted the evidence review, which was published online Feb. 3 and in the March print issue of the journal Pediatrics. One in seven parents of normal-weight children in the studies worried that their child might be too skinny, the researchers found.

Parents might have a hard time assessing their child’s weight because childhood obesity has become so commonplace, the researchers said. More than a third of children in the United States are overweight or obese, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Parents are seeing other children like their own, and think it is normal,” Thornton said. “On the other hand, I have had parents come in concerned that their child is underweight because they are thinner than the other kids on the playground.” The parents also might believe their child simply has “baby fat” that they will outgrow, Thornton said. “They believe a toddler that is a little chubby is going to grow out of it, because it’s just baby fat,” she said.

The researchers found that parents were more likely to underestimate the overweight or obese status of kids aged 2 to 5 years, but became more accurate in their ability to assess their child’s weight as the child grew older. The problem is, young kids with excess weight tend to carry those extra pounds into adolescence and adulthood, the study authors said. With that extra weight comes an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and cancer, according to the CDC.

These findings show that pediatricians need to take a more active role in counseling parents about their children’s weight problems, said Marlo Mittler, a registered dietitian in pediatric and adolescent medicine at Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York, in New Hyde Park. “Pediatricians need to be more firm in saying, ‘Your kid is in trouble. Let’s take a look at this BMI chart and pinpoint the problem,’ ” Mittler said. In particular, pediatricians need to start using BMI charts more often to check a child’s weight, Thornton said. “It’s important for us to use those measurements and not simply rely on the way a child looks, because during different stages of development a child is supposed to have a different body shape than a typical adult,” she said.

Pediatricians should not pull their punches when it comes to childhood obesity, Thornton said. They need to be straight with parents about the health problems their children will face if their weight isn’t addressed. “Pediatricians need to inform parents of their children’s weight status when they are overweight,” she said. “Generally, parents are looking to the doctor to give them an assessment of whether their child’s weight is appropriate or not.”

In turn, Mittler said, parents must be ready to act if their pediatrician warns them of a health problem. “We need to not make light of it. We need to be more proactive,” she said. “It’s never too early to start. It’s OK to introduce young children to fish and grilled chicken and salad, not just things that are off the kids’ menu like mac and cheese.”

Source: WebMD; Parents of Obese Children Underestimate Weight? by Dennis Thompson

South Dakota Obesity Toolkit: A Clinical Toolkit for Healthcare Providers

The South Dakota Obesity Toolkit (2014 Revised Edition) has been updated by the South Dakota Department of Health and other partners to include the most current and credible resources and research surrounding overweight and obesity!

The toolkit is designed to help practitioners interact with patients and together develop customized, personalized approaches to managing obesity with patients of all ages. Tools may be used individually or in combination, based on your preferences and specific patient need.

Studies show that 3 to 5 minute conversations about a patient’s condition during routine visits can contribute to behavior change. The South Dakota Obesity Toolkit provides everything health practitioners need to inform and facilitate those conversations.

This free toolkit is only available online.

Download a copy and start the conversation!

Body Mass Index (BMI) calculator for children and teens

CDC has an online tool to calculate BMI-for-age for kids and teens (age 2 through 19). It displays numeric results, a graphic that shows the weight category, and plots the BMI on a printable growth chart.

Check BMI-for-age annually, or more often if recommended by the child’s healthcare provider. Tracking growth patterns over time can help you make sure your child is achieving or maintaining a healthy weight. A single BMI-for-age calculation is not enough to evaluate long-term weight status because height and weight change with growth. If your child has significant weight loss or gain he or she should be referred to and guided by a health professional.

Please keep in mind that this BMI calculator is not meant to serve as a source of clinical guidance and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Since BMI is based on weight and height, it is only an indicator of body fatness. Individuals with the same BMI may have different amounts of body fat. Persons may consider seeking advice from their health-care providers on healthy weight status and to consider individual circumstances.

Source: CDC; BMI Percentile Calculator for Child and Teen

I Can, You Can, We Can

We Can! (Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity & Nutrition) is a national movement designed to give parents, caregivers, and entire communities a way to help children 8 to 13 years old stay at a healthy weight.

Research shows that parents and caregivers are the primary influence on this age group. The We Can! national education program provides parents and caregivers with tools, fun activities, and more to help them encourage healthy eating, increased physical activity, and reduced time sitting in front of the screen (TV or computer) in their entire family.

We Can! also offers organizations, community groups, and health professionals a centralized resource to promote a healthy weight in youth through community outreach, partnership development, and media activities that can be adapted to meet the needs of diverse populations. Science-based educational programs, support materials, training opportunities, and other resources are available to support programming for youth, parents, and families in the community.

The We Can!® multimedia public service announcement (PSA) campaign, created in collaboration with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Ad Council, encourages parents and caregivers to help children maintain a healthy weight by highlighting the benefits of physical activity and healthy eating habits in a fun and engaging way for the whole family.

The “I Can, You Can, We Can” PSAs are designed to empower parents and caregivers to find creative ways to challenge and engage their kids to make healthy choices. The television PSAs feature parents stepping out of their own comfort zones, with humorous results. This campaign is available in both English and Spanish. Check them out:

“Dunk” PSA

“Juice” PSA

An additional series of PSAs, entitled “All In Together”, takes a different approach by encouraging families to make family time healthy time and find fun ways to get healthy together.

“All In Together” PSA

Be sure to visit the We Can! program’s online component for family tips on eating right, getting active, reducing screen time, and various other topics.

Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; We Can!

Join America’s More Matters Pledge to Fight Obesity

The obesity epidemic in America is a national health crisis. More than 60% of adults and nearly ONE in every THREE children are overweight or obese. Did you know obese children are more likely to become obese adults, with associated costs and life-threatening consequences? In fact, children today may be on track to have a shorter lifespan than their parents!

As a community, we all need to do our part to assure that Americans have affordable, good tasting, healthy food to eat at home, work, and school. Fruits and vegetables not only provide valuable nutrients to fight disease, but they’re critical in the fight against obesity. What can you do? Join America’s More Matters Pledge: Fruits & Veggies…Today and Every Day! and learn how fruits and veggies can play a bigger role in your community and your family.

Visit Fruits & Veggies More Matters to join the pledge!

Source: Fruits & Veggies More Matters; Join America’s More Matters Pledge to Fight Obesity