Of the many statistics about childhood obesity, one in particular highlights the urgency of the problem: One of every three children in America is now considered overweight or obese, and childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years. How did we get to this place? And even more important, how do we stop the growth of this epidemic?
Being obese or overweight is determined by a percentile measurement
of Body Mass Index (BMI), which uses height and weight to determine if a
person is normal, underweight, overweight or obese. The BMI is an
indirect estimate of body fat that is valid for most individuals. Since
children grow in height as well as weight, the standards for children
need to be matched for age and sex. A BMI-for-age of 30 places a child
in the 95th percentile, the determining number for obesity. A
BMI-for-age of 25, or at the 85th percentile, is considered overweight.
A child who qualifies for the 95th percentile is advised to have an
in-depth medical assessment since this amount of body fat is also
associated with high blood pressure, elevated levels of lipids (fats) in
the blood and an increased potential for obesity-related diseases that
include type-2 diabetes, asthma, hypertension, high cholesterol, liver
and gall bladder disease, bone and joint problems, and sleep apnea. It
is also linked to a range of social and psychological issues including
poor self-esteem, depression, withdrawal and poor peer relationships.
But as complex as the causes of childhood obesity are, the baseline
equation is simple: Too few calories are being burned for the amount of
calories being consumed. What's complicated is that this calculation is
mediated by a host of behavioral, environmental and genetic factors.
Heredity contributes a risk factor of 5 to 40 percent for obesity, and
studies indicate that 50 to 70 percent of a person's BMI is determined
by genetic influences. If both parents are overweight, the children have
a 75 percent chance of being obese. If one parent is obese, the
probability is 25 to 50 percent. But while the connection between
genetics and obesity has been established, the problem is usually caused
by multiple genes interacting with environmental and behavioral
factors. Given that the genetic characteristics of a population change
slowly, the rapid weight increases in America show that skyrocketing
obesity rates are probably due to behavioral and environmental factors
combining with genetic factors, rather than genetic predisposition
alone. The upside is that making some basic changes in lifestyle and
nutrition can make a big difference.
One of the biggest culprits is a sedentary lifestyle dominated by TV
watching, computer activities and video games. It's estimated that
American kids are spending 25 percent of their day watching television,
and that those who log the most TV hours have the highest rate of
obesity. First, because they're not burning enough calories, and second
because they're usually eating unhealthy snacks while they're watching.
What they're watching is also a factor. A March 2007 study found that
kids age 2 to 7 see an average of 12 food ads every day, while kids age
8 to 12 see 21 ads, and teens view up to 17 food ads daily. As Dr.
Margo Wootan of the Center for Science in the Public Interest says, "If
companies were marketing bananas and broccoli, we wouldn't be concerned,
but ... most marketing is for sugary cereals, fast food, snack foods
and candy." A 2006 study showed that for each additional hour of
television viewing, kids consumed 167 extra calories. So it's obvious
that limiting TV time is one of the best health care decisions you can
make for your family.
A healthy focus on nutrition can't be underestimated. Hectic schedules,
both for kids and parents, have resulted in a decline in breakfasts and
an increase in dinners outside the home. Use of fast food restaurants
with their high calorie, high salt and high fat and carbohydrate
entrees, along with their super-sized, sugary soft drinks, is a big
contributor to our current obesity epidemic, especially among the lower
Supervising mealtimes will help you control what your kids eat and
create an opportunity to offer encouragement. It's also important to cut
down on the snacking, as well as on processed, pre-prepared food.
Making healthy foods easily accessible is key, so have fresh fruit
washed and ready to eat in a big bowl where everyone can reach it. Same
with washed and cut vegetables and low-calorie dip. What you eat is
important, too, because kids develop preferences based on foods their
As discussed in last week's blog on sleep, shortened duration of sleep
is associated with weight gain and obesity. So making sure that your
child avoids sleep deprivation is an important step in combating
overweight and obesity.
For parents, be a role model, not a nag. Eat healthy yourself and get
lots of exercise. The family will follow your lead, especially if you
turn exercise like bike riding and rollerblading into family outings.
(Not hang gliding, though.) Introduce healthy changes gradually. Go from
serving whole milk to two percent, and then to skim milk. Keep portion
sizes moderate, eat from smaller plates and skip seconds. Instead of
frying, better to grill, steam or bake. And try to establish a regular
eating schedule for the whole family.
Out and About
Walk instead of drive whenever you can and take the stairs instead of
the elevator. Look for a parking space farther from the store, and walk.
At the store, select the checkout line with the batteries and the gift
cards, not the candy. At restaurants, skip the buffet and choose
low-fat, low-sodium or heart healthy dishes.
Childhood obesity is a problem that's not only influenced by what
your kids eat, but also by how the family lives. And given that
overweight adolescents have a 70 percent chance of becoming overweight
adults, the time to address childhood obesity is today. It's easier than
you think. Next week, we'll talk about how new skills at the grocery
store can impact the health of your whole family.
Monday, April 30, 2012
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Most of the people in magazines and on TV are far slimmer than average, yet this is the “ideal” that many people aim for. Before you decide that you won’t be happy until you get down to a certain number of pounds, consider:
- Your age. You probably wish you could get back to your college weight. But current research shows that it’s not unhealthy to gain a bit as we age.
- Your gender. In general, men have more muscle and heavier bones than women, which means that healthy men usually weigh more than healthy women of the same height.
- Your current weight. If you are very heavy, focus on losing a smaller amount (such as 10 percent of your body weight). Losing just 5 to 10 pounds can improve your health.
Your Body Fat Percentage
A pound of muscle weighs the same as a pound of fat, but it takes up less space. Think of a trained athlete and a “couch potato.” Even though they may be the same height and weight, the athlete looks fitter, is healthier, and probably wears a smaller size of clothing. If you are muscular, a body fat test may be a more accurate measure of your ideal weight than the bathroom scale. Talk to your healthcare provider, who can help you set appropriate goals for yourself.
Posted by Terry at 10:22 AM
Diabetes: Understanding Carbohydrates, Fats, and ProteinFood is a source of fuel and nourishment for your body. It’s also a source of pleasure. Having diabetes doesn’t mean you have to eat special foods or give up desserts. Instead, your dietitian can show you how to plan meals to suit your body. To start, learn how different foods affect blood sugar.
CarbohydratesCarbohydrates are the main source of fuel for the body. Carbohydrates raise blood sugar. Many people think carbohydrates are only found in pasta or bread. But carbohydrates are actually in many kinds of foods.
- Sugars occur naturally in foods such as fruit, milk, honey, and molasses. Sugars can also be added to many foods, from cereals and yogurt to candy and desserts. Sugars raise blood sugar.
- Starches are found in bread, cereals, pasta, and dried beans. They’re also found in corn, peas, potatoes, yam, acorn squash, and butternut squash. Starches also raise blood sugar.
- Fiber is found in foods such as vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Unlike other carbs, fiber isn’t digested or absorbed. So it doesn’t raise blood sugar. In fact, fiber can help keep blood sugar from rising too fast. It also helps keep blood cholesterol at a healthy level.
Did You Know?Even though carbohydrates raise blood sugar, it’s best to have some in every meal. They are an important part of a healthy diet.
FatFat is an energy source that can be stored until needed. Fat does not raise blood sugar. However, it can raise blood cholesterol, increasing the risk of heart disease. Fat is also high in calories, which can cause weight gain. Not all types of fat are the same.
- Monounsaturated fats are mostly found in vegetable oils such as olive, canola, and peanut oils. They are also found in avocados and some nuts. Monounsaturated fats are healthy for your heart. That’s because they lower LDL (unhealthy) cholesterol.
- Polyunsaturated fats are mostly found in vegetable oils such as corn, safflower, and soybean oils. They are also found in some seeds, nuts, and fish. Choosing polyunsaturated instead of saturated fats is healthy for your heart.
- Saturated fats are found in animal products such as meat, poultry, whole milk, lard, and butter. Saturated fats raise LDL cholesterol and are not healthy for your heart.
- Hydrogenated oils and trans fats are formed when vegetable oils are processed into solid fats. They are found in many processed foods. Hydrogenated oils and trans fats raise LDL cholesterol. They are not healthy for your heart.
ProteinProtein helps the body build and repair muscle and other tissue. Protein has little or no effect on blood sugar. However, many foods that contain protein also contain saturated fat. By choosing low-fat protein sources, you can get the benefits of protein without the extra fat.
- Plant protein is found in dry beans and peas, nuts, and soy products such as tofu and soymilk. These sources tend to be cholesterol-free and low in saturated fat.
- Animal protein is found in fish, poultry, meat, cheese, milk, and eggs. These contain cholesterol and can be high in saturated fat. Aim for lean, lower-fat choices.
Posted by Terry at 10:11 AM
Monday, April 16, 2012
Improve Your “Internal” Plumbing With Omega-3 Fatty AcidsBy Kevin DiDonato MS, CSCS, CES
Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to improve a number of different health conditions.
Conditions include: improving heart and eye health, lowering inflammation, and improving endothelial function of your veins and arteries.
Omega-3 fatty acids, according to some studies, have been shown to reduce inflammation, which could be present in your body and which may significantly improve the function of all systems in your body.
One system in particular, your vascular system, could play an important role in heart health.
One test, flow mediated dilation (blood flow through your vein), gives doctors, scientists, and cardiologists a pretty good indicator of the health of your heart.
Now, a recent study published in Atherosclerosis, could show the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on the health and function of your vascular system.
Omega-3 and Vascular Health
There have been many studies showing the relationship between omega-3 fatty acids and risk for cardiovascular disease (significant improvements).
It also showed that omega-3 fatty acids may affect endothelial function as it relates to flow-mediated dilation and endothelium-dependent vasodilation.
Flow-mediated dilation refers to blood flow through a vessel. This blood flow dilates the vessel to allow for smoother travel.
Flow-mediation dilation has been used as a way to assess the health and function (or dysfunction) of your endothelium and vascular system.
Endothelium-dependent vasodilation refers to substances (nitric oxide and prostacyclin) that are produced by your vascular endothelium. These substances cause relaxation of the endothelium, which allows for smoother blood flow.
The researchers wanted to see how omega-3 fatty acids affect the function of healthy endothelium.
The design of the study was a meta-analysis (collection of many studies related to their topic), where they looked at omega-3 fatty acid supplementation and endothelial cells.
They used 16 studies that included over 901 subjects.
The omega-3 dose was between 0.45 grams/day to 4.5 grams/day.
They noted, compared to the placebo group, omega-3 fatty acid supplementation showed a 2.30% increase in flow-mediated dilation.
In subgroup analysis, the researchers showed that the improvements from the omega-3 fatty acids could be associated with the overall health of the subjects, or with the dose of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation.
The researchers, however, did notice no change in endothelium-independent vasodilation when supplemented with omega-3 fatty acids.
Through their research, they concluded that supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids could significantly impact endothelial function without affecting endothelium-independent vasodilation.
The Amazing Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
The number one killer in the US, and in the world, happens to be heart disease.
Heart disease encompasses many different aspects such as high cholesterol, stiffening of the arteries due to endothelial dysfunction, and increased inflammation.
Omega-3 fatty acids, however, have been shown by research to lower inflammation and cholesterol, which may improve your heart health.
Now, omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to improve vascular health, which may reduce the effects associated with endothelial dysfunction.
Including omega-3 fatty acids into your daily routine could lead to significant improvements in many different areas of health - especially heart health.
Posted by Terry at 10:21 AM
|Burpees are an excellent strength and conditioning bodyweight exercise that incorporate rapid, explosive movements that will quickly get your heart pounding. Burpees include three exercises into one explosive movement: Sprawls, Push Ups, and Squat Jumps. Looking to take your interval training to the next level? Add Burpees.|
|From a standing position, put your hands on the ground and kick your feet behind you, putting yourself in a push up position.|
|As soon as your feet are back, perform a single push up. From there, kick your feet forward in between your hands and explode up, swing both arms forward, and jump as high as you can into the air.|
|Absorb the impact from the jump by dropping your hands and performing another repetition.|
|Make sure you absorb the impact from the jump with your legs; do not land with your knees locked, or try to immediately return to a standing position. If Burpees are too difficult initially, perform Sprawls instead until you have built up the conditioning necessary for Burpees.|
Posted by Terry at 9:03 AM
Product: AeroShot Pure Energy
Producer: Breathable Foods
Where to Buy: AeroShots.comHere’s the situation: you’re on day 30 of your workout plan, it’s 5:00AM, the only time you have to workout all day. You’re tired and sore and you just aren’t “feeling it” right now. You don’t want to mix a pre-workout drink; no motivation to make a pot of coffee. You’re about to lay back down when you reach for your AeroShot, take a breath, and BAM! Nearly instantaneous energy and alertness.
AeroShot is an innovative new energy supplement developed by a Harvard Professor. It’s basically a shot of caffeine and B vitamins in a simple (but very creative) delivery system. Open it, take a puff, and you’re done! The light powder instantly dissolves in your mouth and into your system (no need to wait for your stomach to get around to digesting the caffeine from a pre-workout drink or cup of coffee). Each canister contains about 100mg of caffeine, about the same as a large cup of coffee without delay, coffee breath, stained teeth, or the list of additives found in pre-workout supplements.
AeroShot was not created specifically as a pre-workout supplement, but we could see the advantages over typical workout-boosting solutions: it hits quick, it’s super portable and doesn’t involve mixing messy powders, and it doesn’t contain who-knows-what that typical supplements like N.O. Xplode contain. After using it several times in a variety of settings, I can say this: AeroShot is awesome!
As much as I like to keep things “pure” when it comes to fitness, the truth is, I couldn’t operate my business, enhance my fitness levels, and have any kind of life without a boost every now and then. I don’t like the taste of coffee, I’m guilty when I drink Red Bulls (even if they’re sugar free), and I never purchase pre-workout supplements because they make me jittery and unfocused. AeroShot delivers quickly and easily, and I’ve found that the “boost” is just enough to help me focus and get moving without making me bounce off the walls. For my workouts, the extra pep helped me excel without making me nauseous. As an assistant to completing this magazine late into the night and early in the morning, it was perfect.
Here’s a tip: when you use AeroShot, don’t treat it like some kind of deep-breathing exercise; avoid the temptation to suck it all down at once, you’ll just get a mouthful of bleh. In that quantity, AeroShot doesn’t taste great, however, if you break it down into smaller doses, you’ll find the taste enjoyable and it will start to grow on you. At this point, I really can’t wait for this product to be available in bulk.
Posted by Terry at 8:57 AM
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Posted by Terry at 7:33 AM