Monday, August 14, 2006

Obesity in Children. How Do We Deal With It?

Child Obesity

Obesity in Children. How Do We Deal With It?

This article is in response to David Deli’s question. David asked, “Why are more and more children becoming overweight…what can we do to help our children?

It’s a known fact that obesity in North America has reached alarming levels. Some parents are very concerned and even disturbed but don’t have the answers to why it’s happening or how to deal with this problem.

Well one thing responsible is the decline in physical activity in children over the past several years. Kids today are spending more time on computers, surfing the internet, text messaging their friends, and playing internet related video games. As a result they are spending less time on outdoor activities such as playing, participating in sporting activities, etc.

This rise in inactivity contributes to weight gain. It really comes down to input and output, even with children. The less calories a child burns the more get stored as fat. It’s that simple.

The other thing that contributes to weight gain is diet. Children today are not getting as much fiber from their diets compared to kids in previous generations. There are two factors that come in to play here. One is the increase in meals made from pre-packaged - heat and serve type of food products available in supermarkets. Most of these are processed foods that have been stripped of significant amounts of fiber.

The other factor is the increase in the number of family meals from fast food restaurants over the years. As you know, a lot of these foods are high in saturated and trans fats and refined (fiber removed) carbohydrates. These foods are loaded with calories and don’t provide a balance in nutrients.

Fiber is a very crucial part of a diet for several reasons. First of all fiber fills you up and contains almost zero calories. The other thing is that it slows down the process in which the body converts carbohydrate to blood glucose, and therefore stabilizes the body’s blood sugar levels. This decreases food cravings and makes you feel less tired at the same time.

The other thing is it may help to increase insulin sensitivity, which is good news for diabetics and which also may result in a reduction in body weight (fat).

Besides the lack of fiber many food products contain substances that also contribute to weight gain. One of these additives for example is artificial sweetener. Certain sweeteners fool the senses by replacing the sweetness in sugar but don’t fool the body because cravings for sweets increase. Child obesity is discussed further in an article from World Science entitled: "Toxic environment" making kids fat, study claims”.
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