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Article : Childhood Obesity

Childhood Obesity

 

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Obesity is defined as a condition in which excess fat has accumulated, to the extent that health may be impaired.

 

The prevalence of Childhood Obesity has escalated greatly. Figures indicate that one quarter of all children and adolescents in Australia are considered to be overweight or obese (this translates to 1.5 million individuals aged less than 18 years).


From 1985, the incidence of those who are overweight has increased by an alarming 60-70% with obesity almost doubling.

 

What is also frightening is that so many of these overweight and obese children maintain this body composition and lifestyle into and throughout their adult lives.

It should also be stated that Childhood Obesity is increasing by 1% each year - what this means is that by the year 2025 approximately half of all children will be classed as being overweight.


So what are the causes of this epidemic?

It is believed that Australian children as a whole are eating more (there has been an increase of 10% energy intake) whilst physical activity has decreased.

 

Today's society is one of convenience and technology. More and more time is being spent by children playing computer games and watching television, in turn there is a distinct lack of physical activity through exercising and playing outside.


The primary cause of Childhood Obesity appears to be energy imbalance combined with the lack of physical activity. The burden that this places on our health care system each year is estimated to be $680-$1239 million.

Many organised sports have led to a decrease in participation rate of 30%, with physical activity also reducing in our schools.1

 

Holistic Natural Therapy and Naturopathic Advice

With the statistics aside there are some serious health effects that this epidemic causes.

 

Being overweight or obese as a child has serious health consequences with many health issues transferring into adulthood. Below is a list of health concerns and conditions which generally carry into adult life and are directly related to Childhood Obesity;


• Increased risk of cardiovascular disease
• Increased risk of morbidity and mortality
• Increased risk of Heart Disease, hypertension, high blood cholesterol and blood sugar
• Increase in respiratory disorders including asthma
• Increase in arthritis and orthopaedic problems
• Increase in sleep disorders
• Lowered self esteem and self confidence

 

The behavioural and psychological aspects of developing good eating habits, which includes knowleadge of proper nutrition and diets, and exercise habits must be addressed for long-term success in weight control.


The aim of sustained weight management is to maximise nutritional intake and control hunger, support or improve metabolic rate, while achieving a moderate energy deficit for gradual weight loss.


Keep in mind that as a parent you are a great influence on your child.

Ensure that healthy food and exercise is promoted within the household - if they see you eating healthy and exercising - the same behaviour should then be passed on to them. What they learn at this time in their life will then transfer to their adult lives so be sure to support your child in adopting a healthy diet with adequate exercise.


Personal Training and Fitness Advice


For this problem Childhood Obesity to be addressed we need to directly target the causes. Although controlling energy intake is a factor, ensuring that your child is including enough physical activity into their day is a must.

At least 20-30 minutes of physical activity is required on most to all days of the week, with the optimum amount of exercise being 45-60 minutes.

 

Exercise for children does not have to be difficult. However there are two forms of exercise that need to be considered when organizing physical activity for a child. Just as in any exercise program both aerobic exercise and strength training complement each other for a complete workout.


Aerobic exercise is greatly important for the growing child. This form of exercise will ensure that your child remains fit and allows the heart and lungs to remain healthy. Such activities as cycling, running, walking, team sports etc are all fine examples for children and adolescents to partake in as part of an organised exercise program.

 

Other ideas are also to look into having your child join such organizations as Scouts or Girl Guides and Brownies - all of which hold regular group physical activity sessions.


It is also important to remember that strength training should be included to tone and develop muscle strength and shape. Light weights can be lifted over a high number of repetitions - which is appropriate for the age group being considered. Weight training can be performed 2 - 3 days per week with the focus being on the major muscles of the upper and lower body.


REFERNCES* ( see below)

 

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1. Australian Sports Commission, www.ausport.gov.au
2. Childhood Obesity Summit Report, www.medicineau.net.au
3. Obesity in Australian Children, Australasian Society for the Study of Obesity, www.asso.org.au
4. Strength Training and Your Child, www.kidshealthh.org