Complications of Childhood Obesity – Startling Consequences That Affect Your Kids

Childhood obesity is an epidemic. This generation, for the first time in history, has a shorter predicted lifespan than their parents. Unfortunately, for many obese and overweight children, a shorter lifespan isn’t the only problem they’re facing. They also have to deal with serious mental and physical complications.

Emotional and Mental Consequences

When most people think about obesity and children they acknowledge the health complications that result. What they don’t think about is the emotional toll obesity takes. Children who are obese:

* Are teased, bullied and ridiculed at school. Being obese is extremely hard on a child. Children can be relentless with teasing and bullying. When a child is overweight, bullies have another weapon against the child. It can cause a vicious circle. The child is overweight so they get teased. The teasing makes them feel bad. They turn to food for comfort. They gain more weight…

* Are more likely to be depressed and suffer from low self-esteem. The depression and obesity connection is complicated. Hormones and blood sugar levels in an obese child tend to be abnormal. This can change brain chemistry and cause depression. Additionally, there is the emotional response to being obese and feeling bad about themselves. They can feel sad, depressed and lack confidence.

* Can have additional learning difficulties. Imbalanced blood sugar, hormones and energy levels can cause learning and focus difficulties. Lack of confidence in themselves only worsens the problem.

* May act out in an effort to gain attention. Behavior problems with obese children are common. It’s caused by stress, social anxiety, and a desire to be accepted.

Physical Consequences

If the emotional and mental consequences aren’t enough to convince you that childhood obesity has to end, here are some startling physical and health consequences.

* Early puberty and menstruation – Imbalanced hormone levels often lead to early puberty in obese children. This can also lead to behavior problems and more weight gain. Not to mention additional social anxiety.

* Asthma and breathing problems – The body and its internal organs can only do so much. When a child is severely overweight and inactive, the lungs struggle.

* Sleep disorders – Sleep apnea is common among obese children. When this occurs the brain is deprived of oxygen during the night. Children wake feeling exhausted and poorly. It’s not a good way to live at any age.

* Type 2 Diabetes – It’s almost a given that an obese child will develop type 2 diabetes at some point. This means a life of struggle, pain and discomfort. Not to mention a shorter lifespan.

* Chronic pain – Joints, muscles and tendons struggle to support a body’s weight. Children can spend their days feeling pretty miserable from head to toe. As adults they may require joint replacements and medication for chronic pain.

This is just the beginning. Obese children also suffer from:

* Eating disorders
* Psychological disorders
* Organ and liver failure
* Skin infections
* High blood pressure
* Metabolic syndrome
* High blood pressure

As adults, if the obesity isn’t reversed, they might deal with cancer, stroke, diabetes and dementia.

If all of this sounds shocking, there is good news. Childhood obesity isn’t a life sentence. Children can lose weight and learn to live a healthy lifestyle. They can turn their health, and their future around.

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Easy Ways to Reduce Calories Consumption

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We seem to live in a super-sized world. We’ve become accustomed to large portions, clean plates and stuffing ourselves. This has led to an epidemic of obesity and it is affecting our children in greater numbers. However, children don’t respond well to severe limitations. Really, who does?

They respond better to gradual changes and new habits. One great way to help your child gain control over their weight and their eating habits is to reduce the calories they consume at each meal. To help you with this process we’ve provided five easy ways to reduce calorie consumption.

#1 Replace high calorie ingredients in recipes. It’s often really easy to lower the calories in a meal by making a single replacement. For example, if you’re making Sloppy Joes you can replace the ground beef with ground turkey. It’ll taste just as good but your child will be consuming significantly fewer calories. Simple replacements are easy. Buy low-fat milk. Change your peanut butter and jelly to low or no sugar options.

#2 Cut the normal portion size in half. We’re accustomed to large portions. Many also still follow the old “Eat everything on your plate” mentality. That’s fine, but when your plate contains a thousand calories it’s easy to gain weight quickly. Cut back on the portions you serve your child, particularly the meats and starches. For example, perhaps you’re serving chicken, mashed potatoes and green beans. Give your child a drumstick, a dollop of mashed potatoes and a healthy serving of beans.

#3 Skip the sugary drinks. One of the biggest contributors to calories are in the things we drink. Children consume chocolate milk, soda and juice at an alarming rate. These are all essentially empty calories. Make chocolate milk an occasional treat, eliminate the soda and reduce juice to no more than one glass a day. Water really is what everyone should be drinking. It may take some time to develop a habit of drinking water, but it’s the best thing for you and your child and it’s calorie free.

#4 Cut back on processed foods. Processed foods – foods that come in boxes, cans and bags – generally contains more calories, chemicals and fat. Natural food – food that is grown or raised – is generally much better for all of us. When you cut back on the processed foods your child eats, you’re helping them cut back on calories, sugar, and fat.

#5 Provide healthy snacks. Snack time may actually be the time when your child consumes the most calories. They eat things like cookies, candy, ice cream and other sugar-laden treats. Snacks are an important part of a child’s daily food needs. They help keep a child’s blood sugar and energy levels balanced. However, sugary snacks need to be replaced with healthy snacks in order to receive those benefits. Get creative. Cheese, yogurt, fruit, crackers, home cooked meats, and dips can all be used to create healthy and kid friendly snacks.

Help your child gain control over their weight. Embrace these five calorie reduction ideas. Your child will begin losing weight without having to deal with dieting, restriction or elimination. They’ll also adopt healthier eating habits and live a better life.

To your health and that of your child,

Lee Jackson, CFCS
Specialist in Family and Consumer Studies

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Childhood Obesity Myths and Facts

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Childhood obesity is a common problem. In fact according to the CDC, Center for Disease Control, childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years. Approximately 15 to 20 percent of our children are overweight or obese. This epidemic has caused several myths to surface. Myths only distort understanding. Let’s clear some of these myths up so childhood obesity can be faced and dealt with.

Myth #1 – Soda causes childhood obesity

Soda alone doesn’t cause diabetes. A child who drinks a lot of soda and also has poor eating habits may be obese. If that same child is also living a sedentary life, then obesity may be the result. However, soda alone does not cause obesity, but it does contribute to it.

Myth #2 – Obesity is inherited and you can’t do anything about it

It’s true that you tend to see obesity run in families. If a child is obese, chances are the parents are also obese or overweight. However, it is uncommon for genetics to cause obesity. Occasionally a child may be born with a hormonal imbalance that causes obesity, but that’s not the norm.

In most cases a parent has simply passed on their poor eating habits and inactive lifestyle to their children. Those two elements combine to cause obesity. Eat a healthy diet and get active and obesity can be reversed, even if the parents stay overweight.

Myth #3 Obese children are just lazy

Absolutely not. Obese children are the same as any other children. They love to play and be active. However, it’s also very easy to be sedentary today. Video games, electronic devices and television all keep children indoors and on the couch. Children of all ages and sizes need to be motivated by the adults in their life to get outside and to move their bodies.

Obesity can be reversed. Children can learn to live a healthy and active lifestyle. They can grow up into strong and healthy adults. However, they need the help of the adults in their life. They need guidance, controls and limits. They may also need motivation from time to time.

The Center for Childhood Obesity offers these simple recommendations:

* Five fruits and vegetables each day
* 2 hours of screen time, or less, each day
* 1 hour of physical activity each day
* 0 sugar sweetened beverages each day

Childhood obesity doesn’t have to be a life sentence. In the majority of cases, the simple act of eating healthier foods and getting active can turn it around. Learn the myths and uncover the facts about childhood obesity. Help your child live a better life.

To the health of you and your child,

Lee Jackson, CFCS
Specialist in Family and Consumer Studies

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Creating Healthy Habits for Life

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One of the best ways to prepare your children for a long and healthy life is to get them started early with their own healthy habits. This is best taught by example. When the entire family practices healthy habits, they’re more likely to stick with your children for life. Here are six healthy habits to create for you and your family.

#1 Drink water. Most of us just don’t drink enough water. Sure, we’re hydrated but it’s often with calorie and sugar heavy beverages. Skip the soda, juice and sweetened drinks and stick to water. It may be a tough transition for the entire family. Make the change gradually.

#2 Consume far less during mealtime. We’re a super-sized society. We’re accustomed to eating a lot during mealtime. Work on eating smaller portions during mealtime. Serve more vegetables on the plate and less protein and starchy carbohydrates.

#3 Move your body. Find a way to be active each and every day. Walk or bike to places when you can. Take hikes and family walks together. Play sports or engage in physical activities. The more you’re active as a family and on your own, the more your children will be active too. An active lifestyle is key to a healthy mind and body.

#4 Appreciate food for what it is. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying food and consuming treats in moderation. When people have a healthy appreciation for food, they eat healthier. However, when they use food to soothe their emotions or as a reward, it creates a misguided relationship with food. Children will learn to turn to food as a coping mechanism. Parents can help by not using food as a reward or punishment.

#5 Make more food at home. Takeout and prepackaged foods are sometimes necessary, but they’re usually not very healthy. However, when a family makes food at home using fresh produce they’re more likely to eat healthy and to develop a healthy relationship with food. Make cooking a family activity on the weekends when everyone is home together.

#6 Eat less sugar. Sugar is in just about everything we eat. It’s in bread, sauces, it’s sometimes even in lunchmeat. Help your family break the addiction to sugar by choosing low sugar and no sugar options. Cookies and snacks are okay occasionally but they shouldn’t be an everyday choice.

One of a parent’s most important responsibilities is to be a good role model. As your child grows they’ll learn about healthy habits from you. They watch, they emulate and they adopt your habits. Creating healthy habits as a family will help your children grow up healthy and strong. They’ll take the habits they learned as children into adulthood.

To your health,

Lee Jackson CFCS
Specialist in Family and Consumer Studies

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