Targeting Childhood Obesity With Active Healthy Lifestyle Programs and Diet.
Nicholas, a 16 year old teenager, accomplished more in a few months as part of the Ageless Physiotherapy Clinic Pediatric Fitness program than she has ever been before her conservative treatment and surgery for valgus extension osteotomy after she suffered adolescent Perthes Disease.
Pain in the left hip and the left knee had led to a diminished capacity to walk. She eventually became sedentary with little or no movement over time. She had to depend on wheelchair to move about especially when she had to go back to school.
This made her to start gaining weight which eventually transmitted into childhood obesity.
The affected leg shortened over time with reduction in muscle power and function which eventually made her undergo surgery (valgus extension osteotomy). Through an innovative approach using Active Healthy Life paediatric exercise and diet program aimed at reducing childhood obesity, he was able to begin working out, cut down on sports drinks, increase his milk and calcium intake, and – most importantly – eat breakfast.
Childhood overweight and obesity on the rise
Childhood obesity is one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century. The problem is global and is steadily affecting many low- and middle-income countries, particularly in urban settings. The prevalence has increased at an alarming rate. Globally, in 2013 the number of overweight children under the age of 5 is estimated to be over 42 million.
Close to 31 million of these are living in developing countries.
Overweight and obese children are likely to stay obese into adulthood and more likely to develop non-communicable diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases at a younger age. Overweight and obesity, as well as their related diseases, are largely preventable. Prevention of childhood obesity therefore needs high priority.
Childhood Obesity Facts
• Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years.
• The percentage of children aged 6–11 years in the United States who were obese increased from 7% in 1980 to nearly 18% in 2012. Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged 12–19 years who were obese increased from 5% to nearly 21% over the same period.
• In 2012, more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese.
• Overweight is defined as having excess body weight for a particular height from fat, muscle, bone, water, or a combination of these factors. Obesity is defined as having excess body fat.
• Overweight and obesity are the result of “caloric imbalance”—too few calories expended for the amount of calories consumed—and are affected by various genetic, behavioral, and environmental factors.
• The number of overweight or obese infants and young children (aged 0 to 5 years) increased from 32 million globally in 1990 to 42 million in 2013. In the WHO African Region alone the number of overweight or obese children increased from 4 to 9 million over the same period.
• The vast majority of overweight or obese children live in developing countries, where the rate of increase has been more than 30% higher than that of developed countries.
• If current trends continue the number of overweight or obese infants and young children globally will increase to 70 million by 2025.
• Without intervention, obese infants and young children will likely continue to be obese during childhood, adolescence and adulthood.
• Obesity in childhood is associated with a wide range of serious health complications and an increased risk of premature onset of illnesses, including diabetes and heart disease.
• Exclusive breastfeeding from birth to 6 months of age is an important way to help prevent infants from becoming overweight or obese.
Contributors to obesity in infants and children
Every aspect of the environment in which children are conceived, born and raised can contribute to their risk of becoming overweight or obese. During pregnancy, gestational diabetes (a form of diabetes occurring during pregnancy) may result in increased birth weight and risk of obesity later in life.
Choosing healthy foods for infants and young children is critical because food preferences are established in early life. Feeding infants energy-dense, high-fat, high-sugar and high-salt foods is a key contributor to childhood obesity.
Lack of information about sound approaches to nutrition and poor availability and affordability of healthy foods contribute to the problem. The aggressive marketing of energy-dense foods and beverages to children and families further exacerbate it. In some societies, longstanding cultural norms (such as the widespread belief that a fat baby is a healthy baby) may encourage families to over-feed their children.
The increasingly urbanized and digitalized world offers fewer opportunities for physical activity through healthy play. Being overweight or obese further reduces children’s opportunities to participate in group physical activities. They then become even less physically active, which makes them likely to become more overweight over time.
Health Effect of Childhood Obesity:
Childhood obesity has both immediate and long-term effects on health and well-being.
Immediate health effects:
• Obese youth are more likely to have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure. In a population-based sample of 5- to 17-year-olds, 70% of obese youth had at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
• Obese adolescents are more likely to have pre-diabetes, a condition in which blood glucose levels indicate a high risk for development of diabetes.
• Children and adolescents who are obese are at greater risk for bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and social and psychological problems such as stigmatization and poor self-esteem.
• High Cholesterol
• High Blood Pressure
• Early Heart Disease
• Insulin resistance (often an early sign of impending diabetes)
• Musculoskeletal disorders (especially osteoarthritis – a highly disabling degenerative disease of the joints)
Long-term health effects:
• Children and adolescents who are obese are likely to be obese as adults and are therefore more at risk for adult health problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer, and osteoarthritis. One study showed that children who became obese as early as age 2 were more likely to be obese as adults.
• Overweight and obesity are associated with increased risk for many types of cancer, including cancer of the breast, colon, endometrial, esophagus, kidney, pancreas, gall bladder, thyroid, ovary, cervix, and prostate, as well as multiple myeloma and Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
When to See a Doctor
If you’re worried that your child is putting on too much weight, talk to his or her doctor. Your child’s doctor will consider your child’s history of growth and development, your family’s weight-for-height history, and where your child lands on the growth charts. This can help determine if your child’s weight is in an unhealthy range.
Not all children carrying extra pounds are overweight or obese. Some children have larger than average body frames. And children normally carry different amounts of body fat at the various stages of development. So you might not know just by looking at your child if his or her weight is a health concern.
Your child’s doctor can help you figure out if your child’s weight could pose health problems using growth charts and, if necessary, other tests.
Prevention of childhood obesity
Overweight and obesity are largely preventable. Supportive policies, environments, schools and communities are fundamental in shaping parents’ and children’s choices, making the healthier choice of foods and regular physical activity the easiest choice (accessible, available and affordable), and therefore preventing obesity.
For infants and young children, WHO recommends:
• Early initiation of breastfeeding within one hour of birth;
• Exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life; and
• The introduction of nutritionally-adequate and safe complementary (solid) foods at 6 months together with continued breastfeeding up to two years of age or beyond.
Complementary foods should be rich in nutrients and given in adequate amounts. At six months, caregivers should introduce foods in small amounts and gradually increase the quantity as the child gets older. Young children should receive a variety of foods including meat, poultry, fish or eggs as often as possible. Foods for the baby can be specially prepared or modified from family meals. Complementary foods high in fats, sugar and salt should be avoided.
School-aged children and adolescents should:
• Limit energy intake from total fats and sugars;
• Increase consumption of fruit and vegetables, as well as legumes, whole grains and nuts;
• Engage in regular physical activity (60 minutes a day).
The food industry can play a significant role in reducing childhood obesity by:
• Reducing the fat, sugar and salt content of complementary foods and other processed foods;
• Ensuring that healthy and nutritious choices are available and affordable to all consumers;
• Practicing responsible marketing especially those aimed at children and teenagers.
• Healthy lifestyle habits, including healthy eating and physical activity, can lower the risk of becoming obese and developing related diseases.6
• The dietary and physical activity behaviors of children and adolescents are influenced by many sectors of society, including families, communities, schools, child care settings, medical care providers, faith-based institutions, government agencies, the media, and the food and beverage industries and entertainment industries.
• Schools play a particularly critical role by establishing a safe and supportive environment with policies and practices that support healthy behaviors. Schools also provide opportunities for students to learn about and practice healthy eating and physical activity behaviors.
Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health
The fundamental causes behind the rising levels of childhood obesity are a shift in diet towards increased intake of energy-dense foods that are high in fat and sugars but low in vitamins, minerals and other healthy micronutrients, and a trend towards decreased levels of physical activity.
Guidelines on Sugars intake for adult and children
4 March 2015 in Geneva – A new WHO guideline recommends adults and children reduce their daily intake of free sugars to less than 10% of their total energy intake. A further reduction to below 5% or roughly 25 grams (6 teaspoons) per day would provide additional health benefits.
They made us understand that free sugars refer to mono-saccharides (such as glucose, fructose) and disaccharides (such as sucrose or table sugar) added to foods and drinks by the manufacturer, cook or consumer, and sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates.
“We have solid evidence that keeping intake of free sugars to less than 10% of total energy intake reduces the risk of overweight, obesity and tooth decay,” says Dr Francesco Branca, Director of WHO’s Department of Nutrition for Health and Development. “Making policy changes to support this will be key if countries are to live up to their commitments to reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases.”
The WHO guideline does not refer to the sugars in fresh fruits and vegetables, and sugars naturally present in milk, because there is no reported evidence of adverse effects of consuming these sugars.
Much of the sugars consumed today are “hidden” in processed foods that are not usually seen as sweets. For example, 1 tablespoon of ketchup contains around 4 grams (around 1 teaspoon) of free sugars. A single can of sugar-sweetened soda contains up to 40 grams (around 10 teaspoons) of free sugars.
Worldwide intake of free sugars varies by age, setting and country. In Europe, intake in adults ranges from about 7-8% of total energy intake in countries like Hungary and Norway, to 16-17% in countries like Spain and the United Kingdom. Intake is much higher among children, ranging from about 12% in countries like Denmark, Slovenia and Sweden, to nearly 25% in Portugal. There are also rural/urban differences. In rural communities in South Africa intake is 7.5%, while in the urban population it is 10.3 %.
Paediatric Fitness Programs in Ageless Physiotherapy Clinic
Active Healthy Life programs for kids are an evidence-based, eight-week weight management program for overweight and obese children ages 8-16 and their parents. The 1.5 hour weekly class consists of interactive nutrition education, physical activity and parent seminars. The entire family is welcome and encouraged to attend.
Active Healthy Life Programs for kids was developed in 2012 as a response to the obesity epidemic.
Through an innovative approach aimed at reducing childhood obesity, Nicholas was able to begin working out, cut down on sports drinks, increase his milk and calcium intake, and – most importantly – eat breakfast.
Active Healthy Life Programs was developed to:
• Reduce weight gain in overweight and obese youth
• Promote healthier eating habits, more frequent exercise, and a reduction in the behaviors that encourage weight gain
• Provide support and motivation for families as they make incremental changes to foster a healthier lifestyle
Our staff is experienced in providing fruitful lessons for the whole family engaging them in the following programs:
• Efficient interactive nutrition lessons
• Food labels reading
• Healthy goal setting
• Personalized feedback
• A support system to guide behavior change
• Healthy cooking tips
• Fitness class
• Gait training
Currently 1 in 3 children are clinically overweight or obese. Our goal is to prevent and reduce the complications stemming from childhood obesity by giving children and their families the tools necessary to make better lifestyle choices.
We always investigate program efficacy by individually evaluating key health indicators such as participants’ BMI, body fat percentage, blood pressure, waist circumference and nutrition knowledge.
Who Can Participate in Active Healthy Life Program:
• Children with a BMI at or above the 85th percentile
• Age 3-16 years
• Able to ambulate and participate in vigorous physical activity for 45 minutes.
• Children and teens with at least one parent/guardian who is willing to attend an orientation and all classes with the child, including a follow-up session 3 months later.
What are you waiting for lets help you and your children turn the tide against childhood obesity by taking the entire family through our Active Healthy Life Programs for total liberation.
#ImageCredit: Couture Calais, MedIndia, Body and Soul, The Peadiatrician,