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Aug 23 2012

Seven Successful Secrets to Overcome Childhood Obesity

Obesity is a clinical term used to describe excess body fat associated with increased risks to health” – The Department of Health

Being Obese can cause an increase in the risks of diseases and potentially fatal health problems such as CHD (Coronary Heart Disease), Type 2 Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, Strokes, Osteoarthritis and even Cancer! Not only that, it’s also linked to psychological disorders such as depression, eating disorders, low self-confidence and low self-esteem.

Figures published by the Department of Health in 2012, from a survey taken in England in 2010 state:

  • 62.5% of Adults (age 16+) were either obese or over weight
  • 30.3% of Children (aged 2-15) were either obese or over weight
  • Of which 26.1% of ALL adults were obese
  • And 16% of ALL children were obese!

Yes that’s right 16% of ALL Children were OBESE!! That’s a pretty scary statistic right?!?

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It’s not just the UK either; over in America the figures are very similar! A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2012 found 35.7% of the adult US population and 19.9% of US children were categorised as obese! Now we’ve all heard stories about the growing obesity epidemic in the US, so it doesn’t come as too much of a shock that the adult obesity rate is higher in the US than the UK, but what does come as a shock is the obesity rate in UK Children only very slightly less than that in the US! Very scary stuff right?!?

In the same study, Dr David Ludwig, Director of a Childhood Obesity Program in the US is quoted as saying “Children will be entering adulthood heavier than they’ve ever been at any time in human history” – it goes without saying that same quote will apply here in the UK too!

OK, so let’s take a step back – we know there’s a problem that’s heading out of control. What can we do about it?

Well here’s 7 Successful Strategies to Prevent and Combat Childhood obesity

  1. Get the whole family involved – Children learn their habits from the people they surround themselves with, in particular their parents. If you’re active as a parent, perhaps you go to the gym or you cycle, run or play a sport. Maybe you follow a healthy lifestyle anyway, why not get them involved too and develop family activities or sports.
  2. Ditch the fizzy and sugary drinks – The main problem children are becoming obese is they’re taking in too many calories (and too many of the wrong calories) for their activity levels. Fizzy drinks and sugary fruit juice drinks are loading them up with additional calories. It’s all too easy to say substitute fizzy drinks and fruit juices for water, but it could be as simple as introducing flavoured waters into the diet – yes there’s still some added sugar content but it’s waaay less than what you’d find in the alternatives This above drink is just an example, the same kind of sugar content exists in most brands! Oh and forget about those ‘diet’ options too – the artificial sweeteners in some of them are banned in a number of countries as they’re responsible for 100’s of neurological disorders – more on this in another post tho!
  3. Make better shopping choices – It goes without saying crispy, biscuits, chocolate bars, pastries, fast food, microwavable and ready meals contain ‘empty’ calories that not only deprive the body of a lot of the nutrients needed but also add to the growing weight problem. When you crave food, you’re NOT actually craving food you’re craving a particular mineral or nutrient found in that food. For example, a large percentage of the population are deficient in Magnesium (see my previous article), however magnesium is found in a high degree in cocoa – the raw ingredient of chocolate. So quite often chocolate cravings occur when your body is actually craving magnesium. Focus a lot more on home-cooked meals and healthy snacks rather than pre-bought processed foods.
  4. Get Active– I’ve already mentioned this briefly, but it’s a really important factor to not only combat obesity but also to improve general health and fitness. Again, why not get the whole family involved  – any form of physical activity would be a benefit, whether that’s going for walks, playing a sport, swimming or even something more active! Maybe even get creative, exercise should be fun!!

    Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

  5. Snack Healthily – Aim for healthy snacks between meals rather than crisps, cakes and sweets which once again only add to the excess calorie intake and add to the problem. Shoot for fruit or nuts – there are loads of different varieties of fruit around that you could experiment with! I remember when I was a kid, my dad used to often buy fruit that I’d never seen or heard of before – rather than the standard, apples, oranges, grapes and bananas – I used to love trying the different fruits !
  6. Don’t Deprive – No one wants to be deprived of the things you love so much, so do allow treats every now and again! Even with my one-2-one and Fitness Camp clients I allow the occasional treat – sometimes it’s a simple treat like a chocolate bar, other times it’s a meal, such as a take-away. If you’re deprived of something you’re going to want it more and more, therefore by allowing it at certain or strategic times that desire is reduced!
  7. Introduce Gradual Healthy Lifestyle Habits – By gradually introducing these changes it helps instil them as habits rather than making a big sweeping change – which will ultimately lead to rebellion or lack of commitment. Healthy habits are so much better than drastic lifestyle changes and are much easier applied!

Well that’s it – seven simple and successful strategies to not only help prevent and combat the increasing childhood obesity problem but also to help prevent and combat adult obesity! The flip side is by instilling healthy habits now there’s more chance of these being carried forward later in life! If you’d like to know more about healthy living and exercise then why not check out some of my other posts on here, or over on my blog.

Till next time

Martin