The Rising Concern Childhood Weight

February 8th, 2009 healthwiki Child Health 0

Do you know when to be concerned about your child’s weight? Of course, all children gain weight as they grow older. But extra pounds — more than what is needed to support their growth and development — can lead to childhood obesity. Childhood obesity is a serious medical condition that affects children and adolescents.

It occurs when a child is well above the normal weight for his or her age and height. Childhood obesity is particularly troubling because the extra pounds often start kids on the path to health problems that were once confined to adults, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Although there are some genetic and hormonal causes of childhood obesity, most excess weight is caused by kids eating too much and exercising too little.

Children, unlike adults, need extra nutrients and calories to fuel their growth and development. But children who eat more calories than needed gain weight beyond what is required to support their growing bodies.

Risk factors
Many factors — usually working in combination — increase your child’s risk of becoming overweight like diet, inactivity, genetics, psychological factors, family factors, socioeconomic factors and so on.

When to seek medical advice
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.

If you are worried that your child is putting on too much weight, talk to a physician. S/he will evaluate if your child’s weight is in an unhealthy range.

Obese children can develop serious health problems, such as diabetes and heart disease, often carrying these conditions into an obese adulthood.

Overweight children are at higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, Metabolic syndrome, High blood pressure, Asthma and other respiratory problems, Sleep disorders, Liver disease, Early puberty or menarche, Eating disorders, Skin infections

The social and emotional fallout also can hurt your child, especially resulted in low self-esteem and bullying, behavior and learning problems and depression.

Healthy eating
Parents are the ones who buy the food, cook the food and decide where the food is eaten. Even small changes can make a big difference in your child’s health.

* When buying groceries, choose fruits and vegetables over convenience foods high in sugar and fat. Always have healthy snacks available. And never use food as a reward or punishment.

* Limit sweetened beverages, including those containing fruit juice. These drinks provide little nutritional value in exchange for their high calories. They also can make your child feel too full to eat healthier foods.

* Sit down together for family meals. Make it an event — a time to share news and tell stories. Discourage eating in front of a screen, such as a television, computer or video game. This leads to fast eating and lowered awareness of how much you are eating.

* Limit the number of times you eat out, especially at fast-food restaurants. Many of the menu options are high in fat and calories.

Physical activity
A critical component of weight loss, especially for children, is physical activity. It not only burns calories but also builds strong bones and muscles and helps children sleep well at night and stay alert during the day. Such habits established in childhood help adolescents maintain healthy weight despite the hormonal changes, rapid growth and social influences that often lead to overeating. And active children are more likely to become fit adults.

To increase your child’s activity level:

* Limit recreational screen time to fewer than two hours a day.

* Emphasise activity, not exercise.

* Find activities your child likes to do.

* If you want an active child, be active yourself.

* Vary the activities.

Whether your child is at risk of becoming overweight or currently at a healthy weight, you can take proactive measures to get or keep things on the right track.

* Schedule yearly well-child visits. Take your child to the doctor for well-child checkups at least once a year.

* Set a good example. Make sure you eat healthy foods and exercise regularly to maintain your weight. Then, invite your child to join you.

* Avoid food-related power struggles with your child.

* Emphasise the positive. Encourage a healthy lifestyle by highlighting the positive — the fun of playing outside or the variety of fresh fruit you can get year-round, for example.

* Be patient. Many overweight children grow into their extra pounds as they get taller. Realise, too, that an intense focus on your child’s eating habits and weight can easily backfire, leading a child to overeat even more, or possibly making him or her more prone to developing an eating disorder.

Coping and support
Parents play a crucial role in helping children who are obese feel loved and in control of their weight. Take advantage of every opportunity to build your child’s self-esteem.

Consider the following advice:

* Find reasons to praise your child’s efforts.

* Talk to your child about his or her feelings. Help your child find ways to deal with his or her emotions that don’t involve eating.

* Help your child focus on positive goals.

The New Year Health Guide For 2009

January 8th, 2009 healthwiki Health Resources 0

The New Year has just started. It is the perfect time for a fresh start. Many people are planning to make resolutions in health for the New Year to improve their life such as losing weight, exercising more, getting more organised or quitting smoking. But none of these will be effective without a proper health checklist, something that prioritises the important things you need to do this year, this decade and for the rest of your life. All you require is a roadmap to hit the highway to better health. The following things can help you to make 2009 your year of good health.

Control your weight
Measure your height and weight to figure out your body mass index (BMI). Or just measure your waist. Abdominal fat is a major health hazard for men. Risk mounts with waist sizes above 37.5 inches, and measurements of 40 inches and above are truly dangerous. Eat fewer calories and burn up more in exercise.

Eat right
Cut down on saturated fat and cholesterol by limiting red meat, whole-fat dairy products and egg yolk. Avoid fats in stick margarine, fried foods and many snack and junk foods. Eat lots of fishes. Load up on whole-grain products instead of refined grains and simple sugars. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Cut down on sodium (salt). And if you need to shed excess pounds, reduce your portion size, avoid calorie-dense foods, and cut your overall caloric intake.

Avoid tobacco
If you are a smoker, quitting is your first priority. Counselling and support groups can help in this regard. With physician’s advice you can use nicotine-replacement therapy or prescription medications, such as bupropion and varenicline (drugs used for cessation of smoking). Even if you do not smoke, you should resolve to help a buddy or relative who needs to kick the habit. And remember to protect yourself and your family by steering clear of secondhand smoke.

Exercise regularly
You do not have to hit the gym or train for a marathon to benefit from exercise. Build physical activity into your daily schedule. Take the stairs, do household chores, play active games with your kids. Above all, walk whenever and wherever you can. Aim for at least 30 minutes of walking a day, either all at once or in smaller chunks. If you have diseases like asthma that do not allow more exercise or need special precaution then consult with your physician.

Reduce stress
Figure out what makes you tense and then try to change the things you can control. Talk over your problems and worries. Get enough sleep. Do things that are fun, especially with people you like. Avoid TV broadcasts and tabloids. Exercise to burn off stress. Avoid caffeine if it makes you jittery. Do not try to medicate yourself with alcohol or drugs. Learn to appreciate and enjoy life’s many little pleasures. Try relaxation techniques such as meditation and deep breathing. Talk to your doctor if you need more help.

Protect yourself from infection
Be sure your immunisations are up to date. If you are ill, protect others by avoiding crowds and coughing into a tissue. Wash your hands often, and use an alcohol-based hand rub. Protect yourself from sexually transmitted diseases.

Prevent accidents and injuries
Many result from careless behavior. Wear seatbelts and drive defensively. Check your house for clutter and cords that might trip you up. Hold the handrail when walking stairs.

Avoid environmental hazards
These include air pollution, pesticides and toxins, contaminated food and radiation. Remember that excessive sunlight is toxic to your skin. These include air pollution, pesticides and toxins, contaminated food and radiation. Remember that excessive sunlight is toxic to your skin.

Get good medical care
See your doctor regularly. Know your numbers cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar and weight. Take your medication as directed. Keep a record of your major illnesses and tests, your medications, and your allergies. Listen to your body and let your doctor know if you do not feel well.

If it seems like a lot, it is. But there are 12 months in 2009 and only 10 resolutions. Pick the ones you need most, change slowly, and get your family and friends to sign on to your resolutions for health. Above all, do not give up if you slip from time to time. Your goal is not perfection, but health. Take the long view and keep plugging away. Any progress you make in 2009 will give you a leg up for 2010 and beyond. If you make 2009 your health year, it will be a happy new year.