Wednesday, February 10, 2010

3 ways to battle childhood obesity

a recent study in Pediatrics reported:
The study, which included 8,550 4-year-olds from around the United States, found that children who ate dinner with their families more than five times a week, slept for at least 10.5 hours a night, and watched less than two hours of TV a day were 40 percent less likely to be obese than children who did none of those things.
Roughly one in seven children who practiced all three of the behaviors was obese, compared with one in four youngsters who practiced none of them, according to the study, which was published in Pediatrics. (for the article on this study, see

my friend sarcastically sent this to me with the comments that you need to: be rich, white, and college educated. his points were not far off the mark in that you did have to be in a stable household the likelihood of which is easier and more common in college educated and wealthier households. as for being white, well, statistically speaking, more college educated and financially secure people are white, or the obverse of this is that more obese, tv-watching, broken family, single parent, undereducated kids are minorities. that's a sad state of affairs for our nation and our society, but speaks to issues way deeper than the BMI of these kids. and i'm not going to comment on the socio-economics or racial politics that contribute but do not cause childhood obesity.

another study reported the other day ( that the food ads in movies and on tv that kids are exposed to may be a greater indicator of poor nutrition choice-making than the number of hours in front of the screen. thus, tv and video movies, the study concluded, are more damaging than video games or computer time. regardless the statistics, i think the one thing that is clear and evident is that we move way less than we were designed to move, and that those in rougher environments, be it home-based or neighborhood-based, have fewer options to engage in safe, free play. if i sound pessimistic, it's because i am. however, i have some hope that some can change. that's why personal training, and someday maybe public facilities will be able to offer some elements of it and group training even to the underprivileged, can impact the tide of obesity that's running over the US. it's also why i firmly believe in educating my clients so that they can understand that it's not just a matter of choice, not for kids and maybe not for many adults. there is a huge element of strength of will to make  the kinds of changes necessary to stem the tide. it's what and why i believe educated personal trainers are worth seeking out.

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