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Knowledge Sharing on Overweight and Obesity

Knowledge Sharing on Overweight and Obesity

Overweight and Obesity

What Health Problems Can Obesity Cause?

Obesity puts kids at risk for medical problems that can affect their health now and in the future. These include serious conditions like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol — all once considered adult diseases.

 

Overweight and obese kids are also at risk for:

 

bone and joint problems

shortness of breath that makes exercise, sports, or any physical activity more difficult. This also can make asthma symptoms worse or lead kids to develop asthma.

restless sleep or breathing problems at night, such as obstructive sleep apnea

a tendency to mature earlier. Overweight kids may be taller and more sexually mature than their peers, raising expectations that they should act as old as they look, not as old as they are. Overweight girls may have irregular menstrual cycles and fertility problems in adulthood.

liver and gallbladder disease

Cardiovascular risk factors (including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes) that develop in childhood can lead to heart disease, heart failure, and stroke in adulthood. Preventing or treating overweight and obesity in kids may help protect them from these problems as they get older.

 

Obese kids also might have emotional issues to deal with (such as low self-esteem), and may be teased, bullied, or rejected by peers. Kids who are unhappy with their weight can be at risk for:

 

unhealthy dieting and eating disorders

depression

substance abuse

How Are Overweight and Obesity Defined?

Body mass index (BMI) uses height and weight measurements to estimate a person’s body fat. But calculating BMI on your own can be complicated. An easier way is to use a BMI calculator.

 

On a standard BMI chart, kids ages 2 to 19 fall into one of four categories:

 

underweight: BMI below the 5th percentile

normal weight: BMI at the 5th and less than the 85th percentile

overweight: BMI at the 85th and below 95th percentiles

obese: BMI at or above 95th percentile

For kids younger than 2 years old, doctors use weight-for-length charts instead of BMI to determine how a baby’s weight compares with his or her length. Any child under 2 who falls at or above the 95th percentile may be considered overweight.

 

BMI is not a perfect measure of body fat and can be misleading in some cases. For example, a muscular person may have a high BMI without being overweight (extra muscle adds to body weight — but not fatness). Also, BMI might be hard to interpret during puberty when kids have periods of fast growth. Remember, BMI is usually a good indicator of body fat, but it’s not a direct measurement.

 

If you’re worried, take your child or teen to see the doctor. The doctor will ask about eating and activity habits and make suggestions on how to make positive changes. The doctor also may order blood tests to look for some of the medical problems associated with obesity.

 

Depending on your child’s BMI (or weight-for-length measurement) and health, the doctor may refer you to a registered dietitian or a weight management program.

 

Why Do Kids Become Overweight or Obese?

A number of things contribute to a person becoming overweight. Diet habits, lack of exercise, genetics, or a combination of these can be involved. In some instances, too much weight gain may be due to an endocrine problem, genetic syndrome , or some medicines.

 

Diet and Lifestyle

Much of what we eat is quick and easy — from fat-filled fast food to processed and prepackaged meals. Daily schedules are so busy that there’s little time to make healthier meals or to squeeze in some exercise. Portion sizes, in the home and out, are too large.

 

Plus, modern life is sedentary. Kids spend more time playing with electronic devices than actively playing outside. Kids who watch TV more than 4 hours a day are more likely to be overweight compared with kids who watch 2 hours or less. And kids who have a TV in the bedroom also are more likely to be overweight.

 

Exercise and Physical Activity

Many kids don’t get enough physical activity. Older kids and teens should get 1 hour or more of moderate to vigorous exercise every day, including aerobic and muscle- and bone-strengthening activities. Kids ages 2 to 5 years should play actively several times each day.

 

Genetics

Genetics can play a role in what kids weigh. Our genes help determine body type and how the body stores and burns fat. But genes alone can’t explain the current obesity crisis. Because both genes and habits are passed down from one generation to the next, multiple members of a family may struggle with weight.

 

People in the same family tend to have similar eating patterns, levels of physical activity, and attitudes toward being overweight. A child’s chances of being overweight increase if one or both parent is overweight or obese.

 

How Can We Prevent Overweight and Obesity?

The key to keeping kids of all ages at a healthy weight is taking a whole-family approach. Make healthy eating and exercise a family affair. Get your kids involved by letting them help you plan and prepare healthy meals. Take them along when you go grocery shopping. Teach them how to make good food choices.

 

Try to avoid these common traps:

 

Don’t reward kids for good behavior or try to stop bad behavior with sweets or treats. Find other ways to change behavior.

Don’t have a clean-plate policy. Even babies turn away from the bottle or breast to send signals that they’re full. If kids are satisfied, don’t force them to keep eating. Reinforce the idea that they should only eat when they’re hungry.

Don’t talk about “bad foods” or completely ban all sweets and favorite snacks. Kids may rebel and overeat forbidden foods outside the home or sneak them in on their own. Serve healthy foods most of the time and offer treats once in a while.

Recommendations by Age

Additional recommendations for kids of all ages:

 

Ages 1 to 5: Start good habits early. Help shape food preferences by offering a variety of healthy foods. Encourage kids’ natural tendency to be active and help them build on developing skills.

Ages 6 to 12: Encourage kids to be physically active every day, whether through an organized sports team or a pick-up game of soccer during recess. Keep your kids active at home with everyday activities like playing outside or going for a family walk. Let them be more involved in making good food choices, such as packing lunch.

Ages 13 to 18: Teach teens how to prepare healthy meals and snacks at home. Encourage them to make healthy choices when outside the home and to be active every day.

All ages: Cut down on TV, phone, computer, and video game time and discourage eating in front of a screen (TV or otherwise). Serve a variety of healthy foods and eat family meals together as often as possible. Encourage kids to eat breakfast every day, have at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily, and limit sugar-sweetened beverages.

Talk to kids about the importance of eating well and being active. Be a role model by eating well, exercising regularly, and building healthy habits into your own daily life. Make it a family affair that will become second nature for everyone.

Mental Health

Mental Health

What is mental health?

Mental health refers to cognitive, behavioral and emotional well-being. It is all about how people think, feel, and behave. People sometimes use the term “mental health” to mean the absence of a mental disorder.

Mental health can affect daily living, relationships, and physical health.

However, this link also works in the other direction. Factors in people’s lives, interpersonal connections, and physical factors can all contribute to mental health disruptions.

Looking after mental health can preserve a person’s ability to enjoy life. Doing this involves reaching a balance between life activities, responsibilities, and efforts to achieve psychological resilience.

Conditions such as stress, depression, and anxiety can all affect mental health and disrupt a person’s routine.

Although the term mental health is in common use, many conditions that doctors recognize as psychological disorders have physical roots.

In this article, we explain what people mean by mental health and mental illness. We also describe the most common types of mental disorders, including their early signs and how to treat them.

The WHO stress that mental health is “more than just the absence of mental disorders or disabilities.” Peak mental health is about not only avoiding active conditions but also looking after ongoing wellness and happiness.

They also emphasize that preserving and restoring mental health is crucial on an individual basis, as well as throughout different communities and societies the world over.

In the United States, the National Alliance on Mental Illness estimate that almost 1 in 5 adults experience mental health problems each year.

 

Early Warning Signs

Not sure if you or someone you know is living with mental health problems? Experiencing one or more of the following feelings or behaviors can be an early warning sign of a problem:

  • Eating or sleeping too much or too little
  • Pulling away from people and usual activities
  • Having low or no energy
  • Feeling numb or like nothing matters
  • Having unexplained aches and pains
  • Feeling helpless or hopeless
  • Smoking, drinking, or using drugs more than usual
  • Feeling unusually confused, forgetful, on edge, angry, upset, worried, or scared
  • Yelling or fighting with family and friends
  • Experiencing severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships
  • Having persistent thoughts and memories you can’t get out of your head
  • Hearing voices or believing things that are not true
  • Thinking of harming yourself or others
  • Inability to perform daily tasks like taking care of your kids or getting to work or school

Mental Health and Wellness

Positive mental health allows people to:

  • Realize their full potential
  • Cope with the stresses of life
  • Work productively
  • Make meaningful contributions to their communities

Ways to maintain positive mental health include:

  • Getting professional help if you need it
  • Connecting with others
  • Staying positive
  • Getting physically active
  • Helping others
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Developing coping skills

Mental Health Myths and Facts

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Can you tell the difference between a mental health myth and fact? Learn the truth about the most common mental health myths.

Mental Health Problems Affect Everyone

Myth: Mental health problems don’t affect me.

Fact: Mental health problems are actually very common. In 2014, about:

  • One in five American adults experienced a mental health issue
  • One in 10 young people experienced a period of major depression
  • One in 25 Americans lived with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression

Myth: Children don’t experience mental health problems.

Fact: Even very young children may show early warning signs of mental health concerns. These mental health problems are often clinically diagnosable, and can be a product of the interaction of biological, psychological, and social factors.

Half of all mental health disorders show first signs before a person turns 14 years old, and three quarters of mental health disorders begin before age 24.

Unfortunately, less than 20% of children and adolescents with diagnosable mental health problems receive the treatment they need. Early mental health support can help a child before problems interfere with other developmental needs.

Nutrition and Physical Activity

Nutrition and Physical Activity

             Physical activity has so many benefits to your health. It can help you get to and stay at a healthy body weight, reduce the risk of bone fractures if you have osteoporosis, and can reduce the risk of many other illnesses like cancer and heart disease. For most people, participating in physical activity is safe. However, some people should check with their health care provider or a qualified exercise professional before they start becoming more physically active.

For information on the benefits of physical activity, setting goals and overcoming barriers, as well as safety tips and precautions, visit your general  physician.

Food provides energy for physical activity. As you get more active and more fit, and/or as you lose weight, your energy needs (how many calories you need) may change. To get the energy you require, you need to get the proper amount of:

  • Protein, which is needed to maintain and rebuild tissues such as muscles.
  • Carbohydrate, which is the body’s preferred source of energy.
  • Fat, which also provides energy.
  • Water, to replace water lost through activity.

Eating a diet that is varied, balanced, and moderate can provide you with all the nutrients the body needs without getting too much or too little of any one nutrient.

  • Balance means eating the recommended number of servings from each food group most days.
  • Variety within each food group (for example, eating different fruits from the fruit group instead of eating only apples) ensures that you will get all the nutrients you need, since no one food provides every nutrient. Eating a wide variety of foods will also help you avoid eating too much of any substance that may be harmful.
  • Moderation means eating a little of everything but nothing in excess. All foods can fit into a healthy diet if you eat everything in moderation.

           Those who are very active or who are athletes may have special nutritional needs. They usually don’t need more protein than other people, but they do need more carbohydrate (grains, vegetables, fruits) than the amount recommended for the average person. Carbohydrate is stored as ready energy in the liver and muscles, and this supply is used up very quickly during exercise. Endurance athletes (such as runners and cyclists) need a particularly large amount of carbohydrate. The carbohydrate needs to be eaten right before and during exercise, because the body cannot store a lot of carbohydrate.

            Physical activity has many benefits for your health. No matter what your age or activity level, it is important that you get enough physical activity. The resources below provide an  overview of why physical activity is important, how it can benefit your mental and emotional health, and how to add more physical activity to your life, including tips on setting realistic and timely goals.

               Physical activity has many benefits for your health. No matter what your age or activity level, it is important that you get enough physical activity. The resources below provide an overview of why physical activity is important, how it can benefit your mental and emotional health, and how to add more physical activity to your life, including tips on setting realistic and timely goals.