News: Exercise deficit disorder in youth, childhood obesity
MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE BARSTOW, Calif. - Over the past quarter century, the frequency of overweight or obese children and adolescents has become a major public health concern. Physical inactivity is now recognized as the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality for non-communicable diseases.
Computers, electronic devices, smart phones, etc. have decreased the need and desire to be active, and in many neighborhoods there are fewer safe places for children to engage in free play.
A growing number of school districts now view physical education as an expendable part of the school curriculum and only 18% of states require elementary schools to provide daily recess.
Nationwide, fewer school-age children participate regularly in moderate to vigorous physical activity and the rapid decline and disinterest in physical activity appears to progress steadily after age six.
Physical fitness is recognized as a powerful marker of health in school-age children, and without regular physical activity and qualified instruction during the growing years, children may not develop the prerequisite motor skills and perceived confidence, which build the foundation for a lifetime of physical activity.
Lifestyle choices that include chronic patterns of poor diets and physical inactivity will cause major health problems and may have the greatest overall impact on the quality of life in the United States in the next three or four decades.
Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, childhood obesity has tripled to a prevalence of greater than 15%.
Obesity is now viewed as a root disease, from which a number of other diseases develop.
Poor lifestyle choices such as decreased physical activity, consuming large quantities of fast foods lacking in nutritional content, and sedentary entertainment, many children today are developing the pre-culture for type 2 diabetes as young as 6 or 7 years old.
This is especially dangerous for children because studies show that overweight children with high blood pressure are much more likely to become adult heart disease patients. Other conditions that may contribute to high blood pressure include kidney disease and endocrine disorders.
Overweight and obesity increased 120% in African American and Hispanic children, and 50% in white children from 1986 to 1998.
Overweight and obesity have continued to increase; currently, one in seven children and adolescents in the United States are overweight or obese.
Dr. Ribeiro and colleagues at the University of Porto, Portugal, report that most children (62% of boys and girls) at risk for obesity are more likely to experience other metabolic syndrome risk factors, such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, lipid abnormalities, and pulmonary obstructive diseases.
In a metabolic study, an obese group of children aged 6-14 were found to have significantly higher blood pressure, triglycerides, and lower HDL-C (good cholesterol).
Obesity not only affects the physical health of children, it also impacts them socially, educationally and financially.
Harvard University School of Public Health concludes that independent of baseline socioeconomic status and performance on aptitude tests, overweight and obese adolescents are less likely to marry, complete fewer years of school, are more likely to be poor as adults and have decreased quality and longevity of life.
Endurance, resistance and lifetime physical activities should include activities with continuous movement patterns: walking, jumping rope, skating, swimming, cycling, hiking, soccer, etc … all have a very positive effect on physical health.
Physical activity recommendations should include practical, regular and moderate regimens of exercise, with a daily minimum participation time of 30 to 60 minutes.
Educating parents and families, recognizing the relationships among the risk factors and devoting efforts to control each risk factor is an important step in reducing the prevalence of childhood obesity in children.
Changing behaviors so that children participate more frequently in lifetime physical activities and consume healthier diets will alter the obesogenic culture and help minimize or eliminate the growth of this disease in children.
Healthy diets for children with family histories or who are at risk for metabolic diseases should follow the recommended dietary intake for obese children that include at least 5 fruits and vegetables a day; increased consumption of whole grains; avoidance of sweets, sodas, sugars and other empty calorie foods; and a dietary fat content of no more than 30% of total calories per day.
These guidelines can be found online at the www.heatlh.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2000/document/frontcover.htm.