childhood obesity

Obesity in America is a growing epidemic and cause of grave concern to everyone, including the medical profession, the health care industry and government officials drafting a new health care plan. Childhood obesity can be the start of the lifetime of weight problems and the health problems that accompany too much weight.

Childhood Obesity is Serious

Childhood obesity is of particular concern, because children who are overweight often struggle with their weigh for a lifetime. Obesity is related to serious medical conditions, such as diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Obesity may be caused by hormonal and genetic factors, but is most often caused by the combination of eating too much and not enough activity. A doctor can conduct a health assessment to make sure that the obesity is not due to an underlying medical condition. If medical intervention is needed to help the child to lose weight, the doctor can provide guidance.

Seven Steps to Success

The panel of experts, including physicians and psychologists, has outlined lifestyle changes in an article titled "Seven Steps to Success: A Handout for Parents of Overweight Children and Adolescents." The article defines seven steps that increase in intensity, including medical management, education, environmental changes, support groups, cognitive-behavior therapy and bariatric surgery.

It is important for parents and other family members to support the child's efforts to lose weight. Parents should take the lead in introducing healthy diet and encourage physical activity and exercise. If parents find that they cannot help their children lose weight with a nutritious eating plan and physical activity, it may be time to consult a doctor. Medical intervention is the first step of this seven step plan.

A medical professional can conduct a physical examination to make sure that there is no underlying medical condition that is causing obesity. In the education phase, the doctor can offer guidance about diet and exercise. A nutritionist may be consulted, to help identify dietary missteps and to make nutrition recommendations. The environment in the home and neighborhood can help to identify pitfalls, such as numerous fast food restaurants and no parks and places to exercise in. The seventh step, bariatric surgery, would only be used as a last resort.

The 7 Steps to Success articles outlines the progression of treatment options for children and family members, so that they can work together to treat obesity in children and adolescents.

Information in this article is not intended as medical advice. If you have questions about treatment for overweight or obesity, please consult a physician.

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childhood overweight

Overweight children can easily progress from being a few pounds too heavy to obesity, which can progress into serious health problems, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Proper diagnoses can alert parents to a developing medical issue that can have a lifelong impact.

Studies have indicated that one-third of American children are overweight, but a new study has shown that only one-third of the overweight children are diagnosed as overweight or obese by a pediatrician.

The study, led by researchers at The MetroHealth System and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, noted that failure to diagnose appears to mostly impact the children who could benefit the most from early intervention. The study is published in the January issue of the journal Pediatrics.

Study Finds Overweight Children Undiagnosed

Researchers reviewed BMI measurements that were recorded for 60,711 children who were between 2-18 years old two had at least one well child visit between the years of 1999 and 2007 at MetroHealth.

According to the BMI Measurements:
  • 19% (11,277) of the children were overweight
  • 23% (14,105) were obese
  • 8% (4,670) severely obese
Researchers found that increasing their BMI percentiles increased the likelihood of diagnosis. Severely obese and obese children were more likely to be diagnosed than overweight children.
  • 76% of severely obese children were diagnosed
  • 54% of obese children were diagnosed
  • 10% of overweight patients received proper diagnosis.

Early Detection of Overweight Can Lead to Intervention

Lead author, David C. Kaelber, MD., PhD, M.P.H., said; "Despite having set pediatric BMI guidelines, this is a bit of a wake-up call to pediatricians that as many as 90% of overweight children are not being properly diagnosed.” Kaelber continued, “Better identification of this group of children who have just crossed into the 'unhealthy' weight category is essential for early intervention which will hopefully prevent not only a childhood of increased health problems, but also what now often becomes an ongoing battle through adulthood with life-long issues.”

The study indicates that children who have crossed into unhealthy weight may not be getting proper diagnoses in time to alert doctors and parents to intervene and improve the child’s health with weight control.

Without intervention, the children who are classed as overweight can cross over into obesity, which can have serious health consequences.

Causes of Childhood Overweight

According to the Mayo Clinic website, childhood overweight is usually caused by a combination of eating too many calories and too little activity. Children need extra nutrition during their important growing years. A nutritionist may recommend a diet that fulfills the need for a nutrition rich diet while reducing empty calories.

Lifestyle issues are usually the cause of weight problems in children, but there may also be genetic diseases and hormonal disorders that can predispose a child to obesity. A doctor can diagnose any medical problems that could cause overweight and make a recommendation to encourage children to reach a healthy weight.

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So you want to lose weight? Well, the choice is truly yours. To successfully reach your weight loss goals, you must consistently make the right choices to support your goals.

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Though most people don’t consciously make the choice to become or stay overweight, we do certain things to contribute to the problem, either consciously or subconsciously.

Each of the choices we make lead to consequences. Good choices foster positive results and bad choices can cause your progress to come to a grinding halt, or worse yet, create a negative result.

You can make the right choices for your weight loss plan by accepting a positive, can-do attitude. Put a positive spin on everything and look for the silver lining. Often items when we experience difficulty it is because there is a lesson to be learned.

Even for small everyday things like overdoing it on the snacks in the afternoon, it can be a lesson to eat a heartier breakfast so you won’t get the munchies later in the day. If you look at it in this light, learn from the lesson, forgive yourself and move on, you will be successful. But if you dwell on the mistake and stress yourself you are likely to eat more because you are feeling bad and get into a negative spiral that is hard to break free from.

The same is true for exercise. If you choose to walk everyday and build up over time to include other activities and increase the length and intensity of your workouts, you will succeed at losing weight. You will set yourself on the right track for positive results. But if you let things get in the way or procrastinate you are making a less productive choice and will see little or no change in your weight.

It is our collective choices that make our program fail or succeed. What will you choose?

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teen weight loss camp

Years ago there were only a handful of teen weight loss camps to choose from. With exponentially increasing childhood obesity in rates never before seen in the United States’ history, today there are a myriad of camp options and choices for parents and children. What should one look for in a summer weight loss camp?

Start With Causes of Teen Obesity

Obesity in adolescence results from unhealthy eating habits, lack of physical activity, or both combined, according to the United States Department of Health and Human Services. Parents and teens should take these factors into account and select a weight loss camp that addresses both of the causes. Learning about a summer camp’s specialized nutritional plan and credibility must be a priority. The weight loss camp experience is meant to jumpstart young adults’ change in lifestyle. Finding a camp with a variety of activities will ease the facilitation of the transition as the camper will have more chances of participating in programs they are already interested in and have the opportunity to discover a new recreation. “When anyone, child or adult, has a personal interest in an activity, they are motivated to get involved,” said camp director Ira Green of non-profit Camp Shining Stars in Wilson, North Carolina. “We are the only camp that allows campers to choose from three activity options. It’s a win-win situation, campers work harder in activities they have selected on their own and we love teaching campers who have a real interest in learning.”

Effects of Teen Obesity

Choosing a teen summer weight loss camp is a positive step in preventing dangerous health problems in modern youth’s future. Teen Vogue published a startling health feature in June 2009 that outlined adolescents experiencing high cholesterol, premature heart disease, strokes, fatty livers, high blood pressure and glucose levels associated with a diabetic future. Also, more than three quarters of children with diabetes today have the type 2 version, which used to be known as “adult-onset.” Offering children a nurturing environment where they can learn better food choices, increase their activity and participate in a community with the same exclusive goal is an investment in the comfort, enjoyment and longevity of their life.

Camp Life

“Teenagers have a right to privacy,” writes Mary King, author of “Teenage Weight Loss Tips Reflect Young Lifestyle." Determining which camps offer a discreet, private residence life may increase the productivity of the camper’s time. Ask the weight loss camp many questions about camp life and gather as much information as possible. Open communication between parents and their child is vital. Educating the camper on what his or her options are will allow them to be more involved in the selection and happy with the new choices they will be making toward a healthier future.

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Calorie Calculator

Those that are looking to lose weight may find it easy to get started. The change in eating habits this often involves may give many people an immediate weight loss boost. Sustaining this may be harder. Once the body adapts to a change in diet, the individual may need to think more about issues like the calorie, cholesterol and fat content of the food they eat. A calorie calculator may be a useful tool here.

What are Calorie Calculators?

These tools (also often called trackers or counters) are aimed at helping the individual assess the food that they eat. So, for example, they may be able to use a calculator to find out how many calories are in a specific food or portion size. Some counters may also give further information such as typical fat content.

These kinds of calculators are available online and are often free to use. In some cases they may be included in the subscription cost of a broader weight loss program such as a meal planner or online diet journal. It is also possible to buy a hand held calorie counter or to download applications to certain types of phones.

What are Calorie Trackers Used For?

People will use these tools for a variety of reasons. For example, they may want to:
  • Meal plan (on a daily or weekly basis) to make sure that what they eat sticks to their recommended calorie intake each day.
  • Check out the content of a specific food to see how healthy or unhealthy it is.
  • Monitor their fat or cholesterol intake for either medical or dietary reasons. People on the Alli diet, for example, must be careful not to consume too much fat and a tracker could help them keep an eye on their intake.
  • Use a combined calorie checker/burner tool to assess how many calories they have burned off with exercise.
  • Work out what their daily calorie intake should be.

Not all calculators offer the same services and it may be worth checking a few out before choosing one to use.

Why Count Calories?

Everyone has a specific daily calorie intake that will keep them fit and healthy. People with weight problems often consume too many calories for their body shape and size and for the levels of exercise that they take. An individual that eats too many calories will basically see what isn't burned off turned into fat.

On a weight loss plan their intake may be set at a certain level. If they can stick to this (and get their recommended amount of daily exercise) then the individual stands a better chance of losing weight consistently and of keeping it off in the future.

But, those who haven't paid much attention to this in the past may need a helping hand. Working out how to fit foods into a daily calorie intake can be made a lot easier if they can assess the content of what they eat on a numerical basis.

So, for example, if an individual is given a calorie limit of 1600 calories a day, then using this kind of tool can make it much easier to understand both how to eat more healthily and how to build meals that will stick to their limit. They know how many calories they should eat and a calorie tracker can help them plan meals and/or track food content quickly and simply.

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Calculating BMI

Body Mass Index (BMI) is an indicator of relative body fat. The body mass index calculation takes into consideration the ratio of weight to height, and defines what weight category a person falls into. As such, by calculating BMI one can help predict health risks for weight associated diseases, and may want to consider their weight management options.

What is BMI - Body Mass Index?

Body Mass Index (BMI) is an indicator of relative body fat that can be used to predict a person’s risk for weight associated diseases. It is determined using a simple calculation that takes into consideration the ratio of weight to height, and defines what weight category a person falls into. As such, BMI is used to classify whether a person is underweight, of normal weight, overweight or obese.

The Body Mass Index Calculation

BMI is defined as the weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in metres (kg/m2).
As such, the body mass index calculation uses the following equation:
BMI = Weight / (Height)2

How Does Calculating BMI Correlate to Normal Weight, Underweight, Overweight or Obese?

According to the WHO, a person is:
  • of normal weight if their BMI lies between 18.5 and 25 kg/m2.
  • underweight if their BMI falls below 18.5 kg/m2
  • overweight if their BMI lies between 25kg/m2 and 30kg/m2
  • obese if their BMI falls above 30kg/m2

Implications of Calculating BMI

By calculating BMI to determine if one is underweight, overweight, obese or of normal weight, a person may realise if they are at risk of weight-related complications and whether they should consider implementing a weight management strategy. Overweight, obese and underweight each pose health risks, and can lead to various complications and diseases, some of which can be life-threatening.

Health Risks When Body Mass Calculation = Overweight or Obesity
It is well known that excess weight is linked with certain diseases. These health risks are especially high for obesity, which is associated with life-threatening conditions including cancer, diabetes, dyslipidaemia, hypertension, heart disease and stroke. Of note is heart disease, which is the number one cause of death for obese people.

Studies have shown that even a small weight loss - as little as 10% - can help lower the health risks for developing weight-associated diseases.

If a person is found to fall in the overweight or obese category, they may want to think about employing some lifestyle changes or investigate other options in order to reach a more healthy weight.

Besides diet and exercise, weight loss options include obesity drug treatments and surgery. Obesity drug treatment is usually only employed when changes in lifestyle measures have failed. In addition, whether one is suitable for weight loss treatment with an obesity drug will depend on various factors, including their BMI status and any other known health risks, such as diabetes or dyslipidaemia. Restrictive weight loss surgery is usually only employed for morbidly obese patients.

Health Risks When Body Mass Index Calculation = Underweight

Of course, being underweight is associated with health problems as well. First, underweight may indicate malnutrition, an eating disorder, or an underlying cause for weight loss that is not as evident. In addition, being underweight increases one’s health risk for osteoporosis, infertility and a weakened immune system.

For anyone concerned about calculating BMI and the resultant health risks, it is suggested that they seek help from a health professional regarding their weight gain or weight loss options.
By simply calculating BMI, one can gain an indication of the amount of relative body fat they have and determine which weight category they fall into. If a person’s BMI falls within the underweight, overweight or obesity ranges, they can then assess their lifestyle and possibly seek professional help in order to determine what changes may be made reach a more healthy weight and prevent future complications and diseases.

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