childhood obesity

Childhood obesity is a problem. It is an epidemic with severe consequences and life altering effects. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity increased from 5 to 10.4 percent among children ages two to five years between 1980 and 2008. Children ages six to 11 increased even more at a rate of 6.6-19.6 percent and adolescents from 5-18.1 percent during the same period. With more and more schools banning or at least discouraging activities such as tag, football, tetherball, and other activities that can be viewed as being aggressive or dominating, what can parents do to fight the growing obesity problem? Below are some activities and suggestions parents could and should use to get children back on track to living healthy and productive lives.

Promote Healthy Dietary Habits
What does this mean exactly? Encouraging fat free foods, diet drinks, and smaller portions will not help curb childhood obesity. Actually, relying on just these changes in diet can be even more detrimental to the health of children. Providing sugar-free snacks and diet drinks in an effort to avoid sugar or calorie intake can be a sheep in wolf's clothing. Sugar-free foods and diet drinks are high in other unhealthy chemicals such as aspartame, sodium, and phosphorous. Artificial sweeteners can increase appetite and the desire for real sugar, according to new research published in the International Journal of Obesity. This should not be interpreted to encourage sugar or higher fat intake, but rather to use common sense and practice moderation.

Another important aspect when dealing with diet choices is knowing when to eat. An old adage says that breakfast is the most important meal of the day; however, it is still the most neglected. Breakfast is not only meant to be the first meal of the day but should be consumed soon after waking to break the fast from the night before (hence the name "breakfast"). This is very important for the metabolism and how the body stores fat, burns protein, and processes nutrition for the rest of the day.

As daily life gets busier and busier, more families are eating on the go. This means convenience foods, meals out of a box, and frozen dinners are becoming evermore popular. However, these foods are usually made of processed foods and are very high in sodiums and preservatives. Since convenience can be a necessity, take the time one day a week to prepare fresh meals at home with healthy ingredients, then portion and send along with children to school for lunch or snacks.

Encourage Physical Activity to Increase Energy and Metabolism

The popular Wii has its benefits for utilizing more than just a child's thumbs; however, nothing will replace the health benefits of outdoor play. Childhood games such as tag, hide and go seek, foot races, and hopscotch should not only be encouraged but revered. Benefits other than just exercise are recognized with these games. Not only are hand, eye, and foot coordination developed and increased, but social interaction is also practiced and developed from these fun activities.

During the summer it is very easy to encourage outdoor play activities, but what about during the dead of winter? Keep the snow blower in the garage and have children help with shoveling the walk. Put on a coat and take a walk around the block to try and find animal tracks in the snow. If cold weather and outdoor activity just doesn't sound good in the winter, making a family trip to the local community gym can be a healthy bonding experience. Intramural sports are also very beneficial to the physical and social health of a child. Basketball, volleyball, wrestling, dance, and indoor soccer can all be practiced during the colder months for exercise and entertainment.

Be Honest With Children Regarding Their Overall Health

What is more important to the well being of a child, their feelings or their health? Society at times can be so afraid to hurt one's feelings, it will find a way to blame and penalize another entity that does not posess emotion to save the feelings of another. A child that is obese, rather fat, is unhealthy and at risk for serious consequences later in life. A child whose parents continue to ignore their weight problem can live a shorter life, risk being bullied in school, or not have the ability to participate in activities to the level a healthier child can. This can result in decreased confidence and self esteem levels that could affect other areas of their lives such as their academic performance. Rather than protecting a child's feelings due to their obesity, parents should confront the child directly. To help a child conquer his or her obesity and give that child a better chance at a healthier life can provide a much more stable confidence level and higher self esteem than ignoring the obvious problem of obesity.

Most importantly, adults need to lead by example for children to truly become healthier. Simple practices such as taking the stairs instead of an elevator, parking in the back row and walking to the building entrance, or going on family walks, hikes, or bike rides can teach children the benefits of exercise from an early age and discourage laziness with the added benefit of providing quality family time. The human body is a physical organism and needs physical exercise or play to be as efficient as possible in fighting childhood obesity. Get fit and be well. A child's health depends on it.

weight loss tricks

Many dieters believe simply eating a proper low calorie diet combined with exercise leads to weight loss. While this weight loss approach follows conventional wisdom, dieters find success is often not that easy. Slipping up on a diet is a common pitfall. The five easy tricks below will prevent diet failure.

Use Five Simple Weight Loss Tricks That Work

  1. Don’t get hungry. Many dieters think less food is more, and eat too little in an effort to cut calories. This leads to hunger, which leads to overeating. It’s much better to eat small, balanced meals often and avoid hunger. Also, eating more often keeps a dieter’s metabolism fast and helps burn more calories.
  2. Eat protein at every meal. Protein digests more slowly than carbohydrates and fats. Approximately 25%-30% of the calories in each gram of protein are burned in digestion. In comparison, carbohydrates burn only 6%-8% of their calories in digestion. Protein has also been shown in studies to keep people full longer than fats or carbohydrates.
  3. Don’t get bored. One of the main reasons dieters go off a plan is boredom. Snacking is often done when a dieter has nothing to do. Instead of reaching for food, take a walk, read a book, or call a friend. Even better, take time to explore a new hobby or sport. Find something that occupies both the mind and the body. It’s hard to snack when knitting or taking a spin class.
  4. Avoid stress. Emotional stress often leads to mindless eating. Although stress is hard to avoid in the present economic climate, there are easy ways to lessen stress. It’s free to meditate, take a bubble bath, or do yoga. A great way to relieve stress and get in some movement is Tai Chi. Many neighborhood parks host free daily Tai Chi classes.
  5. Move more. Even small increments of physical activity throughout the day add up to extra calories burned. Don’t drive or take the elevator when it’s possible to bike or walk instead. Be sure to add resistance training to any weight loss program. Resistance training builds lean muscle. Muscle raises your metabolism. This means looking leaner while burning more calories.

Manage Your Mind and Body for Weight Loss Success

Using these weight loss tricks allows a dieter to manage both mind and body for optimal weight loss success. Ignoring either physical or emotional needs can set anyone up for diet failure. When both body and mind are cared for, dieting comes easy.

Weight loss success is simple to achieve with these five easy tricks. These tricks can be incorporated into most lifestyles without effort. The key to succeeding on any diet is staying on plan with simple changes that take care the whole person.

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time management dieting

If maintaining a food journal, time needs to be available for that – although recording what one just ate takes just seconds, an individual must consciously give time and priority to that step. Time for exercise must be scheduled. Include “hidden” time snatchers like driving to and from the gym, time in the locker room, showering and so on.

Examine your diet and exercise plans and record the activities that you’ll need to fit into your current schedules.

Is it Easy to Schedule Workouts?

If you’re hoping that time will magically appear in your schedule, consider that you’re setting yourself up to lose (and that doesn’t refer to excess weight). Write out a schedule from morning to night, noting how you spend time. You may not realize everything you do during the day, so look at your day in 30-minute increments throughout an average day. You can say general things like “work” or “errands” or “chores.” Watch for those hidden time snatchers like driving, checking email throughout the day and the like.

Are there obvious things that you can give up in favor of dieting, such as going for a walk instead of watching the evening news? If nothing seems obvious, try the technique suggested by Judith Beck, PhD in her book The Beck Diet Solution (Oxmoor House, 2008) and create a priority chart to reduce your activity.

Prioritizing Diet and Exercise with Judith Beck

Divide the activities you identified on your schedule into three charts, “essential activities,” “highly desirable activities,” and “desirable” activities. Include diet and exercise as “essential activities.” If too many things end up in that first category, consider if you are living by unrealistic rules, such as “I must go to all of my children’s sports events in order to be a supportive father,” “To be a good mother, I must be available at all times to chauffeur my children,” “I must do paperwork at home so I’m seen as an efficient worker.”

Realize that things like a clean and organized house are “highly desirable” or “desirable” activities that may need to be bumped aside in order to make time for dieting. Beck suggests asking questions such as, “Do I truly have control over my schedule? Am I overburdened with responsibilities? Do I feel as if my life is just too complicated?” Ask if losing weight is more essential to your life than other activities.

Before jumping into a diet or exercise plan, consider how time management can make it more likely that you’ll engage in the activities necessary to lose excess weight. Determine which activities are essential in one’s day-to-day life in order to find the time you need.

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Tips for Recognizing Dieting Sabotages in Restuarants

Just because you’re eating out doesn’t mean you can’t stay on your diet. You just need to be prepared, even before leaving home.

diet eating out

Beware of Salad Bars

Many dieters are deceived into believing if they just choose a salad bar, they’re ingesting fewer calories. But, it’s not hard to dish out a salad bar piled with the wrong foods that can actually be twice the calories of a double cheese burger.

No creamy foods – Scoops of chicken, potato, egg, and/or tuna salads are loaded with mayonnaises (and it’s not the low-fat variety.)

No croutons or bacon bits – Because you don’t know the fat and calories count, it’s best to have none.
No Pasta – Although you can measure pasta, it’s probably bathed in fat.

What to Select

Dark greens – The darker green the vegetable, the better. Rather than iceberg lettuce, choose romaine. Load your plate with spinach, collard greens, and any other dark green vegetables. On the other hand, choose a variety of color, too. Instead of just green peppers, include red and yellow ones, as well. Add carrots, onions, and tomatoes. Color your plate with healthy fruits and vegetables, making it not only attractive, but nutritious.

Protein – It’s safer to choose chicken over cheese as you have more control over how much fat you’re adding. Be cautious of cheeses such as blue cheese and feta as they’re higher in fat.

Oil and vinegar – If your salad bar doesn’t have a fat free (or low fat) salad dressing, go for the oil and vinegar bottle. But even then, don’t pour it on, but measure out only about 1-2 teaspoons.

Tips for Managing Main Entrees

  • Research menus online– If you’re doing Weight Watchers, check online to know the points value in an entrĂ©e.
  • Be assertive - Before even leaving home, determine you will stand up for yourself and/or not be swayed by others who are dining with you.
  • Pass up bread and rolls – Ask your server not to bring you any bread and rolls. Instead, order coffee or a safe appetizer such as fruit while others in your dinner party munch on their rolls.
  • Ask for alternatives – Instead of fries or a baked potato, ask to switch it for a vegetable.
  • Order low-fat (or fat free) salad dressing on the side – If the restaurant doesn’t offer reduced fat salad dressing, then request oil and vinegar . Again, quickly measure out your 1-2 teaspoons and then have your server whisk it away from you to prevent further damage. Also, ask for your dish to be prepared with olive oil (instead of butter or fat.)
  • Choose grilled, broiled, baked, roasted, or poached – Order anything but fried.
  • Take along a food scale – Don’t be shy about measuring your food. If you can’t judge how much a serving is worth, just measure it on a small scale.
  • Skip dessert – If you must munch on something while others eat dessert, take along a treat (such as a pre-packaged 100 calorie packet) and eat it along with your coffee.

Don’t polish off your plate. Most restaurants serve oversized portions. You can either give away a portion of your meal to others dining with you or take home what you don’t eat. You may have paid for your meal, but that doesn’t mean you have to finish it at the restaurant. Don’t be afraid to ask your server for a doggie bag. Besides saving on calories, you’ll have something for lunch the next day.

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morbidly obese women

Myth #1: Morbidly obese women lack will-power and self control.

Most take it on faith that extremely overweight people “get that way” because they lack discipline or an instinct for self-preservation. Likewise, it is believed that morbidly obese women “stay that way” because they cannot give up the foods they love, and, for whatever reason, they refuse to hop on the treadmill and make other lifestyle changes to lose weight and get healthier.

But this “will-power” argument is belied by evidence. Not all lazy people are overweight and obese, for instance. Many lazy people are as skinny as string beans. Conversely, many overweight women boast tenacity, strength, and extraordinary self-control. For the conventional wisdom to make any sense, one must explain why some lazy women stay thin and why some hyper-disciplined women stay overweight.

The conventional argument, in other words, doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

Blaming morbid obesity on will-power (or lack thereof) alone leads to a hornet’s nest of logic problems.

Myth #2: Morbidly obese women need to eat fewer calories.

Calorie control appears to be less important than sugar/carb control. Here’s a brief explanation why. Think about what a “calorie” is. A calorie is simply a unit of heat. It is the amount of heat it takes to raise a gram of water by a single degree Celsius. Calories can come from any energy source: food, sunshine, or burning coals, for instance.

The quality of calories matters more than the quantity. Eating certain calories (such as carb/sugar calories) can cause fat to accumulate in the fat tissue. Obesity thus results. Avoiding these bad calories can allow fat to get released from the fat tissue to be burned by the body for fuel, thus correcting obesity.

Myth #3: Morbidly obese women need to exercise more.

It has been well demonstrated that sedentary activity correlates with obesity and other diseases. Similarly, it has been shown that people who are more active tend to be thinner and healthier. But the cause and effect with respect to these phenomena is debatable.

  1. It could be that exercise leads to weight loss and that lack of exercise leads to weight gain.
  2. Or it could be that some primary factor drives both obesity and sedentary behavior.

If the second case is correct, unless the primary factor--such as too many carbohydrates in the diet and other insulinogenic factors--is fixed, obesity can persist even in the face of a vigorous exercise campaign.

Myth #4: Morbidly obese women need to eat less fat

Public health authorities insist that dietary fat is a primary driver of heart disease and obesity. But ample evidence shows that dietary fat cannot be the villain:

  • As science writer Gary Taubes points out in his book, Good Calories Bad Calories, Americans consume far less fat today than they did before the obesity epidemic.
  • Taubes also shows that the research underlying the dietary fat heart disease connection is shoddy at best.
  • People who go on low carb (high fat) diets tend to lose weight and feel better and be at less risk for diseases.
  • All of this evidence suggests that dietary fat is not the problem.

Dangerous misinformation about diets abounds

The conventional medical opinion about obesity is as follows:
  • Fat people lack willpower and self-control.
  • Fat people should cut calories to lose weight.
  • Fat people should exercise more to lose weight.
  • Dietary fat makes people fat and puts them at risk for heart disease and high cholesterol.

But as self-evident as they appear, these four assertions fall apart upon closer examination of the scientific evidence.

steroids effects

In the battle against obesity and war against body fat, it is important to pay attention to the body's blood glucose level, plasma level of insulin, and insulin sensitivity. The body tends to maintain the plasma glucose at a steady-state level (homeostatic regulation). Insulin is the most important fighter in maintaining the body's energy balance, energy metabolism, and homeostatic regulation of blood glucose.

blood glucose

Why is it Important to Regulate the Blood Glucose?

Regulation of blood glucose assures adequate energy supply for various organs and cells of the body. Glucose is a metabolite that is utilized for energy by every organ in the body. In particular, the brain relies exclusively on glucose for its energy needs under normal conditions. During starvation, the brain can use other metabolites for energy. If the glucose level goes down markedly or rises significantly, adverse health consequences can result.

Adverse effects of significant and markedly lowered blood level of glucose (hypoglycemia) is readily noticed by the impairment in cerebral and neural activities and responses. When the plasma glucose level is lowered, the brain will be starved of energy since it can use only glucose. The effects on the individual can range from confusion to coma and death.

Adverse effects of an elevated plasma level of glucose are numerous. Sustained elevation of plasma glucose level can lead to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes (1). It can also lead to obesity and numerous debilitating chronic diseases and conditions, including obesity, hypertension, ischemic heart disease, arthritis, and some types of cancer.

What Does Insulin Do?

Insulin can be seen as the "energy manager" that makes sure that the body has adequate levels of metabolic fuels for the body to function properly. When metabolic fuels are abundant (for example, after food consumption), the anabolic activity of insulin goes into affect. This includes stimulation of the synthesis of glycogen and fatty acids in the liver, and facilitation of fat synthesis and storage in the fat cells.

When the body's metabolic fuels are low (for example, during fasting), the catabolic effects of insulin go into action. These effects include the break-down of glycogen to glucose in the liver. This glucose is then released into the blood for energy metabolism by the muscle cells and numerous other cells and organs. Glucose is also produced by gluconeogenesis in the liver, and released.

Gluconeogenesis is the production of glucose from amino acids (break-down products of proteins) and other metabolites such as pyruvate, lactate and oxaloacetic acid. In the fat cells, fat is broken down to fatty acids and released from storage. Fatty acids are then utilized for energy metabolism by the muscles and numerous other organs.

When the plasma level of insulin is elevated as would occur if blood glucose is elevated, anabolic action of insulin will go into effect. Fat synthesis will accelerate, and body fat level will rise. This can lead to obesity. If the insulin level remains elevated for a prolonged period, then insulin resistance can occur.

Increase in Insulin Sensitivity Makes it Easier to Lose Body Fat

In contrast to diminished responsiveness to insulin where higher concentrations of insulin are needed to carry out anabolic activities, an increase in insulin sensitivity means that the same anabolic activity can be performed at lower plasma levels of insulin. Consequently, the rate of fat synthesis would go down.

This occurs because lowered levels of insulin leads to lowered rates of fat synthesis. Additionally, the factors that stimulate the degradation and release of fat from the fat cell, such as epinephrine, can easily over-ride the effects of insulin (facilitation of fat synthesis) when insulin level is low.

If the increase in insulin sensitivity removes the individual from being insulin resistant to insulin responsive, then normal metabolic activities and responsiveness to insulin can resume. It would then become easier to lose body fat and control body weight. Proper diet and exercise can be used to improve insulin sensitivity and restore it to normal.

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