Sunday, November 4, 2012

Weighing in on Childhood Obesity

There are many ideas about good nutrition for parents helping children combat obesity—supplementing their diets is also recommended.

By Janet Poveromo

According to the Institute of Medicine, over the past three decades, the childhood obesity rate has more than doubled for preschool children aged two to five years and adolescents aged 12-19 years, and it has more than tripled for children aged six to 11 years. When the institute released its most recent fact sheet dated September of 2004, approximately nine million children over age six were considered obese.

The rate of childhood obesity has increased at such an alarming rate that last year the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) concluded there was enough indirect evidence to suggest that starting pharmacological treatment early makes sense in children with very high levels of cholesterol.

Causes of Childhood Obesity

The epidemic is due to complex interactions across a number of relevant social, environmental and policy con-texts that influence eating and physical activity. Over decades, these have collectively created an adverse environment for maintaining a healthy weight. This environment is characterized by:
·       Urban and suburban designs that discourage walking and other physical activities..

·       Pressures on families to minimize food costs, acquisition and preparation time, resulting in frequent consumption of convenience foods that are high in calories and fat,
·       Reduced access and affordability in some communities to fruits, vegetables and other nutritious foods;
·       Decreased opportunities for physical activity at school and after school, and reduced walking or biking to and from school;
·       Competition for leisure time that was once spent playing outdoors with sedentary screen time including watch­ing television or playing computer and video games.

Basic Supplements
For parents attempting to help children who are overweight or are obese, there are supplements that can help ensure good health along the way.

"Most parents agree that because kids are all over the place' when it comes to nutrition—they may be overeating or under-eating at specific times during their growth cycles—so a multivitamin that has the USP quality control seal is a safe choice for most kids,” said Amy Hendel, R-PA and author of the book Fat Families Thin Families: HOW to Save Your Family from the Obesity Trap.
“Obviously as a dietician my biggest caution would be that parents should not 'feed their kids anything' just to get them to eat; most kids self-regulate bril­liantly until we start force-feeding them_ Expect kids to balk at eating certain foods that may be healthy but may challenge their palate, just keep expos­ing them to these foods—typically veg­etables—and model eating them,” added Hendel. 'Don't turn to fast food and processed snacks just to get food into them—you are changing their palate to embrace the taste of these foods and then the struggle will be try­ing to get them to control these foods later on—a huge battle for most par­ents struggling with overweight kids."

Another suggestion from Peter Gillham's Natural Vitality (Burbank, CA) is Kid's Formula Calm. The product is the same as the magnesium supple­ment Natural Calm but dosed for chil­dren aged four and up, and also includes vitamin C and zinc.
"Children ages nine through 13 need 240mg of magnesium daily as their rec­=mended daily allowance, and you can be sure that most of them aren't getting it from their diets," said Ken Whitman, the company's president.

Additionally, Peter Gillhamis Dr. Carolyn Dean, MD, ND, noted, 'Magnesium and the B-comptex vita­mins are energy nutrients: they activate enzymes that control digestion, absorp­tion and the utilization of proteins, fats and carbohydrates_ Lack of these nec­essary energy nutrients causes improper utilization of food, leading to such far- ranging symptoms as hypoglycemia, anxiety and obesity,"

Natasha Trenev, medical researcher, probiotic expert and president and founder of Natren Inc_ Westlake Village, CA), recommended the Natren Healthy Start System and/or a capsule of the Healthy Trinity a day with chew­able Tummy Buddies (a chewable kids' probiotic). Trenev also recommended Dr. David Holland's Low-Carbohydrate diet specifically formulated for Natren for the purposes of weight loss and candida eradication_ Trenev said many children who are overweight or obese actually suffer from systemic cancliciasis from antibiotic abuse, poor diet, little or no exercise, and/or severe inflammation from overactive immune systems (i.e., excessive allergies, etc.).

Probiotic products that contain a spe­cific strain of L. bulgaricus LS-51 have tremendous proteolytic and enzymatic activity that help to break down pro­teins into peptides and amino acids necessary to build cellular structure and to satiate the appetite, said Trenev, "In addition, our L. aciciophilus NAS strain found in the Healthy Trinity and the Healthy Start System has been found in two clinical trials to be effective against candida-allnicans. Our Bifidobacterium bifidum Mayloth strain is specific for the large intestine and is very important in eliminating toxins and waste materials and taking the burden off of the liver, which are two important components in healthy weight loss,” she added.

Healthy Snacks
Robyn Palat, marketing director of Sugar Sense Foods {Freehold, NJ), and a former natural products retailer, said it's wise for parents to manage the choices of foods arid snacks for their children. "It would be best to find snacks that are healthy choices and get back to basics, like involving yourself in old fashion baking like you did in your childhood with your mother or grand-mother. This offers time to bond arid can be used as a fun and educational experience in making healthy choice said Palat. "Of course, incorporating more fresh, healthy foods into their diet is key and something that needs to be nurtured by the parents.''

Healthy Eating a Group Effort
Hendel stressed that any radical dietary changes should involve a child's pediatrician's guidance or the help of a dietician or nutritionist. "Very often if a child is 10-30 pounds over­weight, we'll simply encourage a lot of exercise and try to hold them at that weight by small dietary changes so that they don't suffer on a rigid diet and            of 'grow in height so they match their weight," said Hendel. "That said, if the whole family is sub­sisting on a poor-quality diet, a family lifestyle change is in order—but it should involve education and slow changes. Learning about fruits and veggies, taste testing, helping create menu plans, learning about portion control arid managing treats within the diet should be a family affair, and it should happen from a very young age_ You may have one person in the family who needs to lose weight but every­one needs 'good health,' so healthy habits should be the family platform. Plan menus ahead and let the kids weigh in on choices: allow them to shop with you and make it a lesson to cover taste testing, math, colors and label reading. My son is in MIT and I'm convinced those supermarket lessons were the key!"

Palat agreed, noting that as a working mother, she always incorporated healthy foods and healthy physical activities that were fun for the family "Teaching my son to cook and make healthy food selections has positively affected him through­out his life and I have no doubt he will one day pass this on to his family."

Meanwhile, Handel stressed how important it is for kids and parents to interact when it comes to food. “When you bring foods home, let the kids help you to prepare. There are age-appropri­ate tasks for every age group. Make snacks mostly fruit and vegetable but allow one or two processed treats into the house weekly,” Handel added. "Parents should be a model exercise behavior as well. For every hour of TV/video/computer time, there should be an hour of physical activity. The only dishes that should be served family style are a big salad and fruit salad— food should be plated- Let your kids go online and find lighter recipes. We need to involve them so they learn."

Retailer Help
When stores have health fairs, get some of the food vendors to supply samples that are geared toward chil­dren.

Handel concluded that we overeat animal-based protein and shun plant- based protein. 'That needs to change," she said. "We parents don't model healthy behaviors, but we expect our kids to listen. You have to change the home environment—especially the kitchen—into a health-promoting envi­ronment_ Then you need to do what you want your kids to do."
She suggested thinking of foods in three color-coded categories—Red means stop/consider/eat infrequently and those would be processed and fast foods and treats. Green are the foods we should eat with abundance—fruits and veggies. Yellow are the foods we need everyday but with consideration as to frequency, type and portion size— proteins/fats/grains/dairy—based on age/gender/physical activity, "We all need a certain number of servings from each of these food groups," said Hendel, "but we need to understand portion size and which are the super= stars from each group.

"With two thirds of adults overweight Or obese and 25 percent of kids over­weight or obese," Hendel said, '”we need to realize that good nutrition just like charity, begins in the home.”


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