I suspect that more than a few of you reading this blog made a New Year’s resolution to lose weight. It seems to be a national obsession at this time of year.
Unfortunately, many of you will not follow through with your resolution, and a few months later will not even remember that you made it. There is an overweight segment in our population that no one seems to be paying much attention to, that being our young children and adolescents.
Childhood obesity has now reached epidemic proportions.
There were two articles published this week regarding childhood obesity. In one study, published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, the United States had the dubious distinction of having the largest percentage of overweight adolescents in a survey regarding fifteen countries, primarily in Europe.
The researchers did not specifically investigate why U.S. teenagers weighed more than their counterparts in other countries. However, they did point out that preventing obesity before adulthood was critical, since most obese adolescents remained obese as adults. Obesity in adulthood significantly increases the risk of many diseases, including diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, cancer, etc. There have been previous studies in the medical literature indicating that obesity can reduce one’s survival by up to as much as twenty years.
In a second study published in the prestigious journal Pediatrics, researchers indicated that almost one third of children in the United States eat fast food on any given day. The researchers felt that this level of fast food consumption has contributed to the nation’s obesity epidemic.
The study involved a national nutrition survey of over 6,000 children and teens, and reported that on any typical day, more than 30% of U.S. kids, ages four to nineteen years old, ate hamburgers, French fries, soda and other fast food products. On the days that the children ate fast food, they typically consumed an average of 187 more calories than those that did not eat such food. It was estimated that these extra calories added an additional six pounds of weight gain in a year.
Over the course of a few years, one could easily see how this could lead to the epidemic obesity rates that we have in our children. The study reported that children who ate fast food consumed more calories with added sugars, bad fats and carbohydrates, while getting less fiber, fruits and vegetables.
The researchers’ advice to parents is that if the family does go for fast food, they should limit their portions or choose salads or more healthful products, if available. Amazingly, last July the U.S. National Chamber of Commerce apparently released a study that found that “fast food restaurants are not a chief culprit of the fattening of America.”
It should be pointed out that some of the members of the Chamber of Commerce included fast food and soft drink companies. In an accompanying editorial in the current edition of Pediatrics, Dr. Brownell commented on the Chamber of Commerce study that “mounting science is making such a stance harder to defend.”
Because of the types of food that our children eat, they are clearly less likely to get adequate nutrients in their diets. As such, the need for nutritional supplementation is more important than ever.
Children that get adequate amounts of proper vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients will certainly stand a better chance of growing up healthier. There are some wonderful vitamin supplement products for children available on the market. There is a chewable wafer supplement that provides an excellent blend of vitamins and minerals and some phytonutrients.
Country Life has an excellent calcium magnesium product, again in chewable wafer form.
I also strongly recommend fish oil with omega-3 (EPA & DHA) fatty acids. These essential fats are missing in the typical processed/fast food diet and are critical for normal brain function, including preventing and reversing depression, cardiovascular function and vision.
Furthermore, in a study on 3,600 adolescents published just days ago in a European medical journal, it was found that consuming docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and whole fish was independently related to lower hostility rates, compared to those who had consumed no DHA or fish.
I am sure that most of you know about the original low carb “Ketogenic” diet promoted by Dr. Atkins. Next week, you will be reading about the “healthier low carb diet” designed for everyone including children and adults. I am extremely excited about this, as it has been in the planning stage for many months. And in one week, it becomes a reality. Be sure to read our upcoming blogs.
References & Further Reading: