DR. KESTNER: Tennessee kids are too obese

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According to Blue Cross Blue Shield, between 19 and 30 percent of the kids in our great state are overweight.  

An estimated 40 percent are at risk of becoming overweight before they reach adulthood.

It really doesn’t take much in the way of statistical analysis to realize that our kids are becoming too fat.

There is no value in arguing about whose fault this is.  

It is the responsibility of parents, grandparents, teachers, school administrators, doctors and anyone else involved with kids to help turn this problem around.  

Childhood obesity causes greater problems throughout the life of an individual than adult obesity.

One of the most disheartening effects of the childhood obesity trend is that pediatricians are now dealing with increasingly diagnosing Type 2 diabetes in their offices.  

Type 1 diabetes is the type that is often called juvenile diabetes. Type 2 is occurring because kids have gained more weight than their bodies can handle.

Even if your child is only a few pounds overweight it is cause for concern.  

The natural tendency is often for the problem to become worse as time goes on.  

Children will gain a little extra weight naturally during certain time periods.

 This weight gain will disappear as they go through a growth or development phase.  

But consistent increase in body fat is something that you should discuss with your child’s doctor.

This is also not the time to obsess to the point that you set your child up to become anorexic.  

Criticism or too much stress over body weight can have a very negative effect on the child’s sense of self worth and confidence.

Although the various factors that have brought our society to this point are often complex, the solution can be fairly simple.  

Look for ways to increase your child’s level of activity and be a crusader for increased nutritional value of their foods.

That may mean enrolling the child in dance, karate, gymnastics or other after school programs.  

Try them all if you need to.

Find out what your child really likes.  Some kids may not like dance or gymnastics, but may excel in martial arts training or soccer.

Any game or sport that gets kids moving (and laughing) is a victory.  

Ask the school what types of physical activities are being promoted during the school day.

Recently, Tennessee schools have increased the mandate for physical education classes and recess.

However, these policies may be interpreted differently at local schools or districts.

You may also find that what qualifies as physical education may be different than what you might imagine.

The only way to know is to ask your child exactly what they do at school or meet with school officials.

Most kids are playing video games on a regular basis.

At home, you may want to invest in video games that involve body movements to interact with the game such as the Wii or Kinect rather than a hand-held joystick.

 As a parent, you may choose to set limitations on the amount of time spent in front of a video screen of any type.

As a family, you can look for ways to get outdoors or otherwise increase the family’s overall level of physical activity.  

There are so many parks and recreational areas close by that you will not likely run out of options even if you try a new one each week.

In short, every effort that you engage in to increase your child’s level of physical activity will be valuable.

The nutritional value of your child’s meals and snacks is at an all time low.

To properly provide nutritional options a parent or grandparent must work harder than ever.

One of the most important practices that you can develop as a habit is reading every label of every item you pick up in a store.  

In general, the better choices have the shortest list of included ingredients and no terms that you cannot define or pronounce.

The best choices often have no ingredient labels at all, such as fruits, vegetables and other pure food products.

Next week: The value of persistence in the face of adversity.

Until then, stay happy and stay healthy!
Read more from:
Health, Health Care, Living Well, Mark Kestner, Obesity, Voices
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