Thursday, December 11, 2008

Christmas Is Coming...And The Kids Are Getting Fat...

“As Christmas approaches, experts are warning parents to be alert to the dangers of childhood obesity. While no parent wants to spoil the party, the festive period is a time when it's easy to over-indulge. And with big rises in health problems associated with obesity, there is more than just indigestion at stake. Since the 70s, the greatest yearly increases in childhood obesity have been in Western Europe and the USA, and show no sign of decreasing. In 1970, less than 4% of children were obese. In 1996, 12% of 2-15 year olds in England were classed as obese. By 2006 the level had risen to 17% being classed as obese - if the current trends continue, more than half of all children will be overweight by 2050. Obesity in children can lead in adulthood to diabetes, heart disease, a worsening of asthma and poor self esteem. Dr Pauline Balac, a lecturer of Biology and Nutrition at the University of Huddersfield, explains: ‘A person's weight, as any nutrition student will tell you, is simply the balance between energy taken in as food and energy given out by physical exercise. If energy in is greater than energy out, the person will gain weight. However, managing children's diets, eating habits and physical activity, as most parents will tell you, is not an easy thing. "Obesity is one of the few diseases that could be totally preventable,’ says Dr Balac. The recommended amount of exercise for children is one hour of moderate to high activity every day. This is great as a family activity such as walking, cycling, ice-skating or bowling, but even jobs like gardening or cleaning can be active and fun. Family activities are more likely to form lasting childhood memories than a day in front of the television. Maintaining a healthy weight is a challenge, but one that we can and must take on for our children's sake. We can also pass on skills such as meal planning, cooking and active hobbies that will stay with them all their lives.”

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