A Global Epidemic
According to a recent report published by the International Journal of Pediatric Obesity, nearly half the children in North and South America will be overweight by 2010.
In Europe, about 38% of children will be overweight.
The percentages are also expected to rise significantly in the Middle East and Southeast Asia.
Mexico, Chile, Brazil and Egypt have obesity rates equivalent to those of fully industrialized nations.
One in five Chinese children will be overweight by 2010.
Because obese youngsters grow into obese adults, they will be sicker as they get older with heart disease, stroke, and other obesity-related illnesses. These children will represent the first generation to have a lower life expectancy than their parents.
What’s Going On?
Excessive weight gain in children can be attributed to a number of different factors, among them:
- lifestyle habits
- endocrine problems
Today’s families are so busy with other activities and commitments that there’s no time to plan, prepare or sit down to nutritious meals. For the same reason, physical exercise has gone by the wayside in many families.
Children are spending leisure time inside in front of the TV, or computer, or playing video games – rather than outside in physical pursuits. Kids younger than 8 spend about 2.5 hours a day in front of the TV or playing video games. Children 8 and up are in front of one electronic device or another an average of 4.5 hours daily.
It’s a fact that youngsters who spend more than 4 hours a day in sedentary pursuits are more likely to be overweight, so the connection between sitting and childhood obesity is clear.
Added to the lack of leisure time physical activity is the fact that more and more schools are cutting PE programs, either in whole or in part. The conclusion: there are a significant number of children who are engaging in little or no physical activity at school or at home.
Genetics also plays a role in the tendency toward obesity. Our genes determine our body type and how we store and burn fat. Since both genes and lifestyle habits are passed down through generations, it’s to be expected that several members of the same family may be overweight. Studies indicate that in families where one or more parents are overweight, there is a much greater likelihood that their children will also be obese.
‘Emotional eating’ is also a contributor to obesity. Heavy children are more prone to low self-esteem as a result of being bullied or teased by peers because of their weight. A vicious cycle can develop in which an overweight youngster overeats in an attempt to soothe feelings of sadness, boredom or stress brought on by rejection by playmates.
The Effects of Obesity on Children
An overweight child is at risk of developing a host of medical and psychological problems that will directly impact his health and his future.
- Type 2 diabetes
- Insulin resistance
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol and abnormal blood lipids
- Liver and gall bladder disease
- Bone and joint problems
- Shortness of breath/asthma
- Poor sleep patterns
- Tendency to mature earlier
- Irregular menstrual cycles and fertility problems in girls
- Low self-esteem and rejection by peers
- Crash dieting
- Eating disorders
- Substance abuse
- Lead by example - ‘practice what you preach’ – eat nutritious meals yourself and get regular exercise
- Get your children involved – let them help you plan and prepare nutritious meals and snacks – take them to the grocery store and show them how to make good food choices
- Don’t use food as a reward for good behavior
- Don’t force your child to clean her plate – let her know that she should eat only when she’s hungry
- If your child is overweight, don’t eliminate all sweets and favorite snacks – this may result in rebellious and sneaky behavior
- Limit TV, computer and other sedentary activities
- Encourage your child to get involved in physical pursuits – expose him to a variety of sports and activities so that he learns what he enjoys
- Talk to your youngster about the importance of eating well and getting plenty of physical exercise
Introducing Pediagro into your child’s diet provides a delicious, low calorie 3-oz. serving of complete nutrition and zero fat.
Pediagro can play a significant role in helping an overweight child regulate caloric intake without sacrificing vital nutrients.
A 3-oz. serving of Pediagro provides precisely the high-quality protein and low-glycemic carbohydrates children need to sustain their energy during exercise, sports and other play.