Overweight kids face the same
risks as overweight adults
In 2010, First Lady Michelle Obama launched Let’s Move!, a health initiative designed to fight obesity in America’s children, enhance their current health and fight future risks ( www.letsmove.gov).
There’s a good reason for concern. Between 16
and 33 percent of children in the United States are
obese—and indications are that they’ll become obese
And like adults, obese children are prone to critical
health risks. Just as we are now seeing what used
to be considered adult-onset diabetes in children
and teens, America’s youngsters are in danger of
developing high cholesterol and high blood pressure
(HBP) levels, which are risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD). One study showed 70 percent of
obese children had at least one CVD risk factor and
39 percent had two.
Is there a family history of HBP and/or high cholesterol in your family? If so, especially in one or both
parents, the odds are your child is at risk too. The
American Academy of Pediatrics says if a child’s cholesterol levels are 170-199 mg/dL, and his or her
“bad” cholesterol (LDL), is 110-129, they’re already
Determining HBP is the same as with adults:
Children’s blood pressure should not be more than
120/80. However, be aware it may be harder to measure; many standard BP cuffs don’t fit children properly, so have your pediatrician check it.
Here are some tips for helping children eat right:
n Let’s Move! suggests leaving fresh fruit within easy
reach for kids grabbing snacks. That probably will
work better if you also move the cookie jar higher and
throw out any chips and other snack foods.
n Learn about hidden added sugars. “Sugar” isn’t always listed as such on food labels. Anything ending in
“ose,” like fructose and lactose, is a sugar. Also watch
for ingredients like molasses, corn syrup and honey.
Yes, the latter are natural sugars, but if molasses is
the first ingredient on a food label your youngster’s
getting more added sugar than any other healthful
ingredient in the product.
n Watch for salt. Sodium levels for children with HBP
should be 1. 2 grams per day for 4-to- 8 year-olds and
1. 5 grams per day for older children.
Although the AHA recommends at least 150 minutes of physical education (PE) weekly for elementary school students and 225 minutes for middle
school students, PE programs have been brutally
slashed. Plus, children are couch (and desk) potatoes.
It’s now estimated that American youngsters between
the ages of eight and 18 spend 7½ hours sitting and
watching TV, at computers and entrenched in other
“entertainment media,” instead of being on their feet.
Here are some ways to get children moving:
n Track their TV/computer time. See how much time
they’re sitting versus engaging in a physical activity,
then put a limit on it or refocus it. Make part of TV
time moving to a dance video or an active video game
n Find organized activities they can join. If they’re not
in sports or PE in school, check with Boys and Girls
clubs, your local religious outlet, or other clubs (like a
dance class) that will get them moving under supervised eyes.
n Start moving with them! The odds are you’re out of
shape, too. So arrange for walks together, gardening or bicycling. See what other physical activities the
whole family can enjoy, even those with disabilities.