Friday, June 1, 2012

Childhood Obesity Rates

Centegra HealthBridge is helping combat childhood obesity in McHenry County by lowering its fitness center membership age to 12 years old and continuing its Kids in Motion program.
“Illinois has the fourth-highest childhood obesity rate in the country,” said Matt Carlen, vice president of health and wellness with Centegra Health System. “This new membership aligns with Centegra Health System’s mission to promote wellness in greater McHenry County.”
Statistics show 1 in 5 children in the state struggle with obesity.
Centegra’s fitness centers lowered the membership age from 14 to 12 last month with encouragement from families and physicians concerned about childhood obesity, said Kim Piraino, sales and marketing manager for the Health Bridge fitness center.
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Research from the UVa Children’s Hospital is on display as doctors and students share their latest work in the efforts to keep kids healthy.
Some of the projects included treating kids with deadly food allergies, finding better ways to manage asthma, recognizing illness in infants, and studies on how to reduce obesity rates among kids. The chair of the Pediatrics Department at UVa Children’s Hospital, Dr. Jim Nataro, says prevention is the key.
“The most important thing we do is keep kids healthy. We want to keep them at home and keep them in school. We want to keep them out of the doctor’s office when we can and we want to keep them out of the hospitals. The key is preventive medicine and understanding what we can do to make sure kids don’t get into trouble,” said Dr. Nataro.
In all, about 50 research projects were on display. All of the research on display was done over the last year by doctors and residents at the UVa Children’s Hospital.
The topic dominating this research symposium on Children's health was how to deal with childhood obesity.
"There's been an overall increase in prevalence of obesity across the nation in the last ten to twenty years," said Dr. Stephanie Grice, Pediatrics Resident.
That's an issue that's growing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2008, more than one third of American children and teens were overweight or obese. In the past 30 years, childhood obesity has more than tripled and it's health crisis doctors say is tough when it comes to treating.
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EMC Editorial - Recently, the provincial government announced an ambitious goal of reducing child obesity rates by 20 per cent over the next five years. Many commentators on the issue, including Kate Hammer and Tamara Baluja in the May 23 Globe and Mail article "War on child obesity: out of the cafeteria and onto the playground", focus heavily on the role of schools as a means of meeting this goal, and debate whether improving cafeteria meals or increasing physical activity in schools is a more effective means of doing so.

While a school's culture can certainly play a large role in influencing kids to live healthier lifestyles, we believe that medical professionals and parents should also be encouraged to do more in the struggle against child obesity.

For instance, if the medical community spent half the time and energy encouraging parents to feed children a balanced, properly portioned diet as they spend stressing the health benefits of breastfeeding babies, perhaps more parents would think twice before taking their families to fast food restaurants multiple times a week.

Furthermore, children are in the care of their parents far more than they are the school system. More parents need to recognize the importance of getting their children involved in sports, or even simply taking them to the park on a weekend afternoon instead of letting them sit in front of the TV all day.
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