YMCA’s National Role In Combatting Childhood Obesity

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– Submitted by the YMCA of the USA

twokidsunAs highlighted by the Afterschool Alliance’s recent report, the number of children participating in afterschool programs continues to grow. So, too, does the need to ensure that afterschool programs are fostering opportunities for healthy eating and physical activity.

With the ever-growing childhood obesity epidemic — there’s a national movement underway to encourage a healthier lifestyle in children outside of school hours – and the YMCA has taken on a pivotal role in this space – even influencing some of the first legislation enacted around issue.

It is through the Y’s Healthier Communities Initiatives program where the Y is able to create such change working in collaboration with other community leaders to ensure that healthy living is within reach to the kids in those communities.

The Y has been instrumental in influencing:

· The first legislation of its kind: The California State Senate passed legislation creating a voluntary recognition program for afterschool programs implementing healthy eating and physical activity standards that were initially created and implemented by the HOST coalition, of which YMCA of the USA was a founding partner.

· 15,698 positive transformations in early childhood and afterschool programs across the country

· 470 changes in early childhood or afterschool programs to ensure food and beverages offered are healthy

· 410 changes in schools to ensure that food and beverages sold to children before, during and after the school day are healthier

· 373 changes in schools that have helped incorporate physical activity before, during and after school hours

· 101 schools to expand participation in the USDA free or reduced breakfast or afterschool snack program

kidseatinghealthyThese changes are rooted in the Y’s incorporation of a set of Healthy Eating and Physical Activity standards into all Y childcare and afterschool programs which:

· Establish a minimum of expected physical activity for children of different ages enrolled in Y programs;

· Define food and beverages offerings, including designating water as the primary beverage during snack times and offering fruits and vegetables as snack options;

· Limit the amount of screen time (watching TV, playing video games, using computers);

· Encourage breastfeeding of infants in Y care; and

· Commit Ys to conducting parent education to encourage healthy behaviors at home.

The standards are based in part on years of research supported by collaborations with the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), University of Massachusetts at Boston, the Healthy Out of School Time Coalition (HOST) and the National Institute for Out of School Time (NIOST). Through these collaborations, the Y has learned the most effective ways to create healthy environments in out-of-school time settings – and has been influential in encouraging healthy lifestyles in children across the country.

Obesity Should Not Be A Hollywood Punchline

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Thank you to PRWeb for supplying this article. Do you agree with Dr. Myo Nwe’s perspective? Please share in the comments section below…..

obesityDr. Myo Nwe, author of the new weight loss book of 2015, “Fat-Me-Not: Weight Loss Diet of the Future,” says films and television programs do a disservice to the viewers by avoiding the real subject matter when overweight characters are usually played for laughs. She asks for a call to action from television program to take obesity more seriously and treat it as a disease, an issue she discusses in her new book.

Dr. Myo Nwe is the co-author of a new weight loss book “Fat-Me-Not: Weight Loss Diet of the Future” and co-founder of the Ace Medical Weight Loss Center in Rock Hill, SC. In her book, Dr. Nwe takes a broad look at the industry of weight loss, and how several fad diets cannot hold up under scientific scrutiny. On film and in television shows, however, she says the topic of obesity is usually emphasized mostly toward the social aspects and played for basic laughs, which she believes impacts whether Americans view it as a serious health concern.

“It’s rare to see weight management dealt with in an honest way,” Dr. Nwe says. “Most of the time heavier characters play secondary roles where their size is just another quirky attribute.

“Where are the storylines dealing with diabetes or heart problems?” she asks. “I know that’s not exactly sitcom material, but it’s noticeably absent from the dramas as well.”

Dr. Nwe says she understands that the entertainment industry has separate goals from healthcare providers, but she feels that the failure to address obesity in the popular arts points to a disconnection with real life problems.

“I always recommend a healthier diet to my patients,” Dr. Nwe explains. “And that includes their TV diet. Unfortunately, most of what’s on the menu is junk food.”

The doctor says she would like to see more shows that “edutain” on the topic—both informing viewers of the real issues of obesity, while also fun to watch.

“The subject doesn’t have to be a sad one,” Nwe adds. “Working in weight management, I see some of the most positive and inspiring experiences imaginable, especially when people stand up and meet the challenge.”

In her new book “Fat-Me-Not,” Dr. Nwe examines the many myths and misconceptions associated with weight loss and continually encourages readers to get to know the science involved.

“I’d like to see a program where losing weight isn’t just part of a reality show competition,” she says. “A show that exposes the best strategies and worst diets would be a great start.”

The Link Between Sleep And Obesity

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By Doug Johnson

SleepingWomanHow many hours of sleep are you getting at night? If you’re like the average American, your answer is most likely: not much. Unfortunately, a lack of sleep has been linked to a whole host of problems, but more recently it’s been linked to obesity.

It makes sense, right? You sleep less, therefore you’re more sluggish, less motived to exercise and more tempted to snack throughout the day. Yes, that’s the underlying link between sleep (or lack thereof) and obesity, but there’s much more to it than that.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 70% of Americans are overweight, and at least 35% are considered obese. One of the main problems with weight gain/loss is that it’s hard to stabilize your diet and routines when, as a culture, we’re always on the go. Pulling an all-nighter, waking up when it’s still dark out and going to bed in the wee hours of the night are all things we do on a weekly basis, and it’s having a dramatic effect on our metabolisms. Unfortunately, this trend of get-up-and-go isn’t getting better, it’s getting worse. It’s now estimated that one in three children who were born in the year 2000 will develop diabetes.

You’re Hungrier When You’re Sleepy

A lack of sleep can actually make you hungrier. When your sleep cycle is disrupted, your hormones become imbalanced, and the hormone that controls your appetite, leptin, can become disrupted.

This is one of the main reasons why restrictive-type diets have such a high failure rate. People may initially see promising results, but their bodies are too inclined to living a certain lifestyle, and are actually pressuring the person to eat more—even going so far as altering how much energy they exert in order to make them crave more food. This may seem hard to believe, but it’s true.

Leptin is the hormone that regulates how much fat your body stores. It’s the hormone that determines whether you’re hungry, whether you’re full and how much energy your body expends throughout the day. One of the biggest risks of sleep deficiency is that you become more susceptible to a leptin deficiency which, you guessed it, leads to weight gain.

Other Effects of Less Sleep

stresssleepingOne of the most common themes we’ve seen in patients is that most aren’t sleeping enough. Sleep deprivation can alter your blood sugar levels. It can also throw off your body’s natural body heat, making you either feel warmer, colder or both. Worse still, it can aggravate your back.

Muscles that are fatigued have a harder time supporting your spine, making you more likely to slouch. When you slouch you put more pressure on your spine, which in turn puts more pressure on your spine’s discs and joints. It’s a viscous cycle: back pain can lead to a lack of sleep, but a lack of sleep can also lead to back pain.

How to Curb Your Appetite

Fortunately, the effects of sleep deprivation aren’t permanent. Experts say you need about 7.5 hours of sleep a night to be awake actively throughout the day. Unfortunately, The Better Sleep Council reports 48% of Americans aren’t getting enough sleep. That said, everyone’s body is different and the amount of sleep really isn’t as important as the quality of sleep you’re getting. If you’re having trouble sleeping at night, start by taking a look at your activities throughout the day.

• Are you a coffee or tea drinker? If so, how often and when do you drink? Experts say you should limit your caffeine intake to before 2 pm—anything after could make it harder to fall asleep.

• How often do you exercise? One of the easiest ways to help you fall asleep at night is to be active enough for your body to want to rest. Sleep deprivation may cause you to be awake longer, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re more active. Quite the opposite, actually. So you’re up longer, eating more, and probably exercising less.

• Are you constantly on the computer before bedtime? If so, you may want to limit how long you’re online before bed. This CNN report mentions how the artificial lights on computer screens and iPads can make it harder to fall asleep.

• How cold is your bedroom? When your body is at a cooler temperature, it’s easier to fall asleep. Anyone who lives in the South can attest to this, as I’ve spent many sweltering summer nights tossing and turning.

By limiting how much caffeine you’re drinking throughout the day and exercising more, you’ll help make it easier to fall asleep at night. In addition, work toward making your nightly routine more conducive to sleep by turning off all electronics an hour before bed and turning the heat down a little. Remember, a little more sleep goes a long way in improving your health, and helping to avoid issues like obesity and back pain.

– Author Doug Johnson helped create North American Spine and manages all medical staff, in addition to training physicians in proper AccuraScope® procedure techniques.

Balancing Diet, Physical Activity Key To Combating Obesity Epidemic

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Submitted by Matt Raymond

New Article Makes Recommendations for Public Health Strategies

joggerIs it possible for experts from the leading nutrition and sport medicine professional organizations to come to consensus on how to strategically address obesity? The answer can be found in a peer-reviewed paper, Energy Balance at a Crossroads: Translating the Science into Action, which provides specific recommendations for biological, lifestyle and environmental changes that will successfully guide children and families toward healthier weights.

The paper, published jointly in the July editions of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise® and in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, outlines steps to incorporate energy balance principles into public health strategies.

The recommendations include:

* Integrate energy balance into curriculum and training for both exercise science and nutrition professionals and strengthen collaborative efforts between them.

* Develop competencies for school and physical education teachers and position them as energy balance advocates.

* Develop core standards for schools that integrate the dynamic energy balance approach.

* Work with federally funded nutrition programs like the Cooperative Extension Service and school lunch programs to incorporate energy balance solutions.

* Develop messaging and promotional strategies about energy balance that American consumers can understand and apply to their lifestyles.

* Map out and support existing programs that emphasize energy balance.

“We have been discussing and analyzing the obesity epidemic for years. I am ecstatic to see actionable steps toward realistic solutions,” said Marianne Smith Edge, MS, RD, LD, FADA, the IFIC Foundation’s senior vice president of nutrition and food safety and co-author of the paper.

“Addressing obesity prevention through sharing best practices with consumers and community leaders, in addition to undergraduate and graduate level training, is a comprehensive approach that works.”

The paper is an outcome of the October 2012 expert panel meeting titled “Energy Balance at the Crossroads: Translating the Science into Action,” hosted by ACSM, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA)/Agriculture Research Service.

The IFIC Foundation, along with ILSI North America, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and the American College of Sports Medicine, held a webinar for health professionals Aug. 28 on the same subject as the paper; it can be viewed here.

In addition to Smith Edge, the article’s co-authors are Melinda M. Manore, Oregon State University; Katie Brown, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation; Linda Houtkooper, University of Arizona; John Jakicic, University of Pittsburgh; John C. Peters, University of Colorado, Denver; Alison Steiber, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation; Scott Going, University of Arizona; Lisa Guillermin Gable, Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation; and Ann Marie Krautheim, National Dairy Council.

saladplateIn a related vein, the IFIC Foundation’s Food Insight newsletter published an article in its September issue about a new study in the American Journal of Medicine that suggests that decreased physical activity is a bigger culprit in our nation’s expanding waistlines than increased calorie intake. The story is accompanied by an infographic summarizing key findings.

For interview requests and any other questions, please contact the IFIC Foundation media team at 202-296-6540, Raymond@ific.org.

The International Food Information Council Foundation is dedicated to the mission of effectively communicating science-based information on health, food safety and nutrition for the public good. The IFIC Foundation is supported primarily by the broad-based food, beverage and agricultural industries. Visit foodinsight.org.

Obesity – A Global Pandemic – Stay Vigilant With Your Lifestyles!

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By Madhavi Dandu

Lifestyles have undergone dynamic changes over the decades and the people of today’s society are leading a more sedentary life that is bracketed in coziness and escorted by machine comforts. However, there have also emerged arrays of lifestyle disorders that are unwarranted and have potentially harmful implications for our health. The sturdy man of the yester centuries has transformed into a weak and vulnerable person! Most of the developing and developed societies around the world are suffering from conditions like obesity, diabetes, hypertension, stress and many more diseases. Of all the diseases stated, obesity has emerged almost as a pandemic around the world. The excess body weight that finds discrepancy with the BMI indices has been described as the condition of obesity and is significantly different from healthy body dimensions.

Why so much of concern?

The condition of obesity is not a disease in itself but, a frontrunner for an array of real diseases which carry life threatening implications. Obesity is not incurable or hard to control and rather requires only lifestyle changes through incorporation of positives.

While it is easy to assume that lifestyle changes will rid us of the problem. One must keep in mind that doing so has become increasingly difficult because of unhealthy habits we have developed. We have developed an obsession to eat junk and easy foods, and chose to laze around in our cozy homes making it even more difficult for our bodies. It is for this reason that obesity has surfaced up as a pandemic that stands to threaten the health of global societies. Fitness experts are therefore, not shying away from labeling it as a disease.

Obesity implications –

Obesity is characterized by the deposition of excess fats in our body thus, increasing our weight. When we eat more than our body requires, excess energies are produced. This extra energy is stored in the form of adipose fat tissues. The process of fat deposition is very slow but consistent.

One of the major health hazards that are prospectively associated with obesity is diabetes. High fat deposition and obesity reduces the capacity of the body to respond to elevated blood sugar levels through proper insulin production. The fat tissue has its own hormone production profile and it interferes with the healthy mechanism of the body!

This is how the body develops insulin resistance which results in high blood glucose levels. This further deteriorates the body processes and organs like the eyes and kidneys.

Other major ailments that are caused by obesity are –

Coronary heart diseases: The excess fat that travels in the blood deposits as arterial plaque and makes the arteries rigid and also narrower. This is one of the major causes of cardiac arrest.

Joints pain: Pain is experienced in the knee joints due to increased weight. In severe cases, proper joint therapies are considered. Some cases may also require joint replacement.

Catalyzes stress: Obese persons are generally found to be lacking initiative and vigor towards life and have greater tendency to slip into stress and depression. A toned up body is always full of self confidence and potential!

How to take care?

A few lifestyle tips can change all this easily and constitute the common social talk. These are –

1. Eat healthy! – Avoid junk food and eat home cooked healthy meals.

2. Lives an active life – Make the time to do light exercises.

3. Remain vigilant – Keep a track of your body dynamics and weight.

4. Never skip meals – Have a well regulated diet as fasting irresponsibly increases the chance of putting on weight.

So never let your life passions take a negative hold on you. Reduce the chances of health threats that could otherwise be waiting for you as you move forward with irresponsible lifestyles.

Take care!

– Madhavi Dandu is a senior editor at UrbanWired with deep love and passion for all things health, wellness, fitness and fashion. Given how uninformed people were about personal health, fitness, she saw the need to educate average joe and jane about healthy living through her writing.

New Study: Severe Obesity Linked To Poor Kidney Function In Teens

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ObesityAlmost 18% of severely obese adolescents show signs of abnormal kidney function, according to new research presented here today at the National Kidney Foundation’s 2014 Spring Clinical Meetings.

The presence of too much albumin–a type of protein–in the urine, known medically as albuminuria or proteinuria, is an early sign of kidney damage. Doctors also use a test called glomerular filtration rate (GFR) to estimate how quickly filtered fluid flows through the kidneys. A GFR of 90 or over indicates normal kidney function, while GFR less than 90 indicate a progressive loss of kidney function. A GFR that’s too high, which is common among obese children and adults, indicates hyperfiltration, meaning the kidneys are working extra hard. Having hyperfiltration for a long period of time can lead to leakage of protein into the urine.

Among 242 adolescents enrolled in the Teen-Longitudinal Assessment of Bariatric Surgery study , 17 percent had protein in their urine, 3 percent had abnormally low GFR (less than 60), and 7 percent had abnormally high GFR (more than 150), Dr. Nianzhou Xiao of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and colleagues found.

Teens with a higher body mass index, as well as those with less sensitivity to the blood-sugar-regulating hormone insulin, were more likely to have abnormally low GFR. Females were more likely than males to have protein in their urine.

“This study represents the first attempt to characterize kidney function status in a large cohort of severely obese adolescents,” Dr. Xiao said. “We plan to continue following them up after bariatric surgery procedures. It will be very important to see whether their kidney function improves after surgical weight loss.”

“Severe obesity is increasing and now affects 4-6% of U.S. children and adolescents. If untreated, obesity during adolescence is associated with a higher prevalence of chronic kidney disease and other serious conditions in adulthood, making obesity a huge public health burden. Pediatricians should counsel obese children and their family proactively about the health concerns linked to obesity and the importance of weight loss for patients who are obese,” said Beth Piraino, MD, President of the National Kidney Foundation.

obeseboyvectorbelly“This study indicates that kidney dysfunction is present in childhood obesity along with such complications as high blood pressure or diabetes,” continued Piraino. “Lifestyle changes such as increased physical activity and healthy eating are critical to improving the overall health of the American population and need to start with our youth. The National Kidney Foundation has developed a number of educational initiatives to promote healthy lifestyle and protect the kidneys.”

The National Kidney Foundation is the leading organization in the U.S. dedicated to the awareness, prevention and treatment of kidney disease for hundreds of thousands of healthcare professionals, millions of patients and their families, and tens of millions of Americans at risk. For more information, visit www.kidney.org.

– Submitted by Ellie Schlam of The National Kidney Foundation

5 Recommendations For Preventing Children’s Obesity – Part 2

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By Cindy Brown

Continued from part 1 of this article…..

healthychoice2. Eating Behaviours: Unhealthy eating habits and behaviours are the leading cause of obesity among children and adults. Treats are fine in moderation, but high amount of fat, sugar or salty snacks lead your children develop unhealthy eating habits. It is important to adopt healthy eating behaviours to prolong our life and to improve our physical appearance.

3. Encourage Family Interactions: Make mealtimes a family affair with a lot of happy talk and exchange of ideas. This will help your kids to eat more slowly. Gobbling food will not help a child to know the difference between full and overfull stomach. You can encourage your child to develop healthy eating behaviours and be physically active if you:

* Do not set overweight children apart. You should focus on the whole family and work gradually to change the family’s physical activity and eating habits.

* Create daily meal times and eating together more often. Prepare a variety of healthy foods and let your child decides whether and how much to eat.

twokidsun4. Physical activity and sedentary behaviours: Many studies have been conducted by doctors and researches that indicate a variety of negative impacts on person’s life due to sedentary lifestyle. 89% of the children aged between four and five years spend more time watching TV, videos or DVDs every day. They are likely to have an unhealthy diet, less likely to eat fruits and vegetables and less likely to participate in any physical activity. An active participation in physical activity increases life expectancy and decrease the risk of cardiovascular diseases. In addition, it provides psychological and social benefits. You should encourage your kids to participate in physical activities like running, cycling or swimming rather than engaging them in entertaining activities that results in overweight condition.

5. Use the Opportunities: Take your children with you when you go shopping or prepare meals as much as possible. Take your time to learn about their preferences and teach them about the nutrition and benefits of healthy eating.

In conclusion, Childhood obesity is a problem that a society cannot afford to ignore. One thing is for sure, if things stay as they are now, the future of our youth’s health looks extremely weak. Parents and schools are the only two most powerful forces that can directly shape their children’s lives and help to combat obesity. They should develop our youth into healthy citizens and ensure that their kids are well prepared for the future.

– Cindy Brown is the owner of Educare, a social voluntary organization, which offers youth development programs, Leaderships workshops and life-skills education. She is also a professional writer with science background and specializes in writing informative articles in various niches.

5 Recommendations For Preventing Children’s Obesity – Part 1

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By Cindy Brown

kidsunningtogetherBecoming a parent is an ecstatic feeling in life. As a child grows, parents guide them through life’s lessons in hopes that they don’t face any struggles growing up. Unfortunately, there are times that no matter how much we prepare; those struggles are waiting just around the corner. Parents often realize very late that the lines have been crossed and their child was being bullied.

Today, the problem of children obesity has become so endemic in the country that kids have shorter life span than their parents. According to the report by the American Heart Association about 1 in every 3 children is overweight or obese. Many children today are inundated with risk factors for heart diseases like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, raised insulin, obesity, physical inactivity, low self-esteem and depression.

Despite such facts, many parents feel uncomfortable while talking with their children about weight. In fact, a survey of WebMD/ Sanford Health found that parents of teens find it more difficult to talk about the weight with their child than discussing about drugs, alcohol or smoking. Such issue is heightened by the fact that there are limited resources available to help parents respond to their child’s growing weight. They search in local libraries or go online to obtain information but end up in getting something basic like eating less and exercising more.

However, weight loss is not a good approach for most young children since their bodies are growing and developing. They should not be put on a diet unless a physician supervises for medical reasons. A restricted diet never supplies the energy and nutrients needed for normal growth and development. Following are some simple but effective things to follow for preventing obesity:

kidseatinghealthy1. Small changes in eating habits pave the way for success: Parents can easily prevent childhood obesity by providing healthy meals, nutrition and daily physical activity. Healthy meals provide nutrition for growing bodies while increased physical activity reduces health risks and helps weight management. You should plan sensible portions and focus on overall good health rather than a certain weight loss.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this article shortly…..

– Cindy Brown is the owner of Educare, a social voluntary organization, which offers youth development programs, Leaderships workshops and life-skills education. She is also a professional writer with science background and specializes in writing informative articles in various niches.

Obesity: Its Main Causes, Health Effects And Possible Solutions

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By Dr. Mario Pary

bellymeasurementsmallObesity usually results from an energy imbalance between your consumed and expended calories. For those who wish to lose or gain weight, it is crucial to find the right balance between the calories they take in and burn to achieve their fitness goals. Note that whether a person wants to maintain a healthy weight or remove excess pounds, there is still a strong connection between the energy taken in by his body through the drinks and foods he consumed and the energy used by his body when performing various activities. Here are some of the main causes of obesity that should be avoided by those who wish to obtain a healthy weight:

1. Inactive Lifestyle

Living an inactive lifestyle makes it impossible for your body to burn your consumed calories. This results to taking in more calories daily than burning them through normal daily exercises and activities.

2. Emotional Factors

There are those who eat more than usual because of their emotions such as stress, anger, and boredom. This will lead to overeating which is one of the risk factors for obesity.

3. Poor Diet and Eating Habit

The daily diet plan and eating habits that you follow play a crucial role in your weight. This means that following a diet plan which is rich in calories, eating a lot of calorie-rich foods at night, eating oversized portions, drinking beverages rich in calories and skipping meals especially breakfast contribute to excessive weight gain.

4. Pregnancy

Pregnant women gain weight because of their need to support the growth and development of their babies. Most of them experience difficulty losing their accumulated weight after they deliver their babies. This triggers obesity especially for women who have already undergone several pregnancies.

snoring5. Inadequate Sleep

Inadequate sleep, characterized by sleeping less than 7 hours every night, triggers hormonal changes that might boost your appetite. It can also cause uncontrollable cravings for foods rich in carbohydrates and calories.

Other risk factors and causes of obesity are medical problems like hypothyroidism and poor metabolism, age, environmental factors and genetics.

Health Effects of Being Obese

Obesity can trigger a variety of harmful health conditions that have the tendency of affecting your entire life. Your risks of experiencing the following conditions are also high if you are obese:

• Metabolic Syndrome
• High Blood Pressure
• Stroke
• Coronary Heart Disease
• Breast and Colon Cancer
• Type 2 Diabetes
• Gallbladder and Liver Disease
• Respiratory Problems
• Sleep Apnea
• Gynecological Problems such as infertility and abnormal menstruation
• Osteoarthritis
• Abnormal Blood Fats

Natural Solutions to Obesity

1. Dietary Changes

There is nothing more effective in treating obesity than making a few dietary changes that aid in reducing your weight. One dietary solution in overcoming obesity is to follow a low-calorie diet plan. Note that the secret towards achieving a dramatic loss in your weight is to reduce the amount of calories consumed by your body.

Make sure to talk to a health care provider or dietician so your present drinking and eating habits will be reviewed. This is crucial in determining the amount of calories normally taken by your body and how this can be reduced. The typical amount of calories taken by people who aim to lose weight is around one thousand to one thousand six hundred calories daily.

Another tip is to adhere to a healthy eating or meal plan. Eat plant-based foods like whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Consider increasing your intake of foods rich in protein like lean meat, soy, lentils and beans. Adding fish into your diet two times weekly is also necessary.

Another healthy eating habit tip is to reduce your intake of sugar and salt. Stick to dairy products that are low in fat and reduce your intake of unhealthy fat sources. Your fat sources should be from foods that are good for your heart including nuts, fish, and canola or olive oil.

joggers2. Physical Exercises

One of the best physical exercises that you can do on a daily basis is brisk walking. This is valuable in reducing your risk of dealing with obesity and preserving your healthy weight and body. It is also advisable to work out in the gym for approximately thirty to forty-five minutes 4 to 5 days weekly. Combining your regular workouts with healthy dietary habits can aid in significantly reducing your weight.

Dr. Mario Pary, owner of Shreveport Dentist. I focus most of my energy on serving my patients as best as possible. In my spare time, I enjoy writing articles for various dental journals. I also enjoy playing guitar and spending time with my family.

Why School Lunches Could Be Adding To The Obesity Epidemic And What You Can Do To Help

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groupkidsAs your child walks in from school, takes off his backpack and slumps on the couch, obviously exhausted from a full day of school, you may wonder why his energy has vanished. Ask him what he had for lunch in the school cafeteria, and you may find your answer.

From pizza and French fries to fruit dripping with rich corn syrup and canned, processed vegetables, your child’s food choices may be less than desirable to a health-conscious parent. It’s no wonder your child’s energy is gone and his clothes keep getting tighter.

Many parents are finding that school lunches could be adding to the childhood obesity epidemic. Luckily, there is something you can do to help.

What’s For Lunch?

“The problem with many school lunches, or meals rather, is that they are highly processed,” says Elizabeth Prebish, registered dietitian for Organic Life, provider of healthy lunches in Chicago, Illinois. “Many school lunches include processed meats, fried foods and high amounts of sugars or carbohydrates.”

With restricted budgets to feed large quantities of mouths, typical food service companies use conventional meats that contain hormones, antibiotics and steroids – all things small children do not need, says Prebish.

In addition to lunch, it’s possible your child is filling up on sweets as well. The school lunch system provides many opportunities for sweets, including offering ice cream and bakery items, not to mention chocolate milk. “Having these items as daily options is definitely a contribution to the obesity epidemic,” says Prebish. “These processed sugars are addictive, leaving children craving the same foods not only in school but when they are home as well.”

Snack Time

kidseatinghealthyFrom Halloween and fall festivals to school picnics and class parties, a celebration with food is a common occurrence in the classroom. Beyond the gorging of party cookies and cakes, some nutrition experts believe that even healthier snacks scheduled into the daily classroom schedule can contribute to childhood obesity.

“The number one way in which schools contribute to childhood obesity is by scripting snacks into the daily schedule,” says Adrienne Hew, nutrition specialist and founder of NutritionHeretic.com. “Children who are well fed do not need snacks – having snacks scripted into the schedule drives them to want to eat even when they are not hungry.”

The idea of incorporating snacks into the school day derived from a practice used for diabetics that uses small meals throughout the day to help keep blood sugar steady, says Hew. “However, the snacks that are offered to children would kill a diabetic – crackers, cookies, Cheerios and juice,” she says.

Cooking Up Change

In order to prompt change, parents need to offer solutions and suggestions to school districts and school board members. Offering a viable solution that is realistic with decreased school budgets is key.

“I would love to see schools engage with the community by going to local farmers or food co-ops and cutting cheap or free deals to absorb their leftover produce or produce that isn’t perfect for selling at the stand but can still be salvaged for making soups, stews and salads,” says Hew.

Another inexpensive option would be to recruit culinary students to complete internships in the schools as apprenticing or head chefs under the supervision of the person who normally is in charge of budgeting, suggests Hew. This economically-appealing option would give interns the opportunity to practice their skills, prepare healthy, innovative meals for school lunches and afford the district with a cost-effective option.

Parents can also advocate for a food service system that offers more natural products, says Prebish. “If this is not an option, work with your food service provider to determine more healthful substitutions that the children will also enjoy,” she says. “Try for more natural, and even organic, products wherever possible.”

In addition to working with food service systems, make yourself known at school board meetings. Parents can work to improve lunch selections by speaking to the board, the community and fellow parents. At each meeting try to provide a suggestion for healthier options, such as replacing meat-based burgers with veggie burgers.

According to Dr. Timothy Radak, faculty member in the Public Health program at Walden University, veggie burgers typically have one-third the amount of fat, no cholesterol and are similar in regards to the amount of protein as meat-based burgers.

Suggest cost-saving, evidence-based ideas to show the benefits to the district’s bottom line and the overall health of each student on campus. Schools could also reduce or eliminate some foods with health risks, such as red meat, processed foods or sugary drinks, says Radak. “Use the cost savings to provide more fresh fruits, vegetables and low fat, nutritious meal options.”

More importantly, educate your child about food, healthy eating habits and smart options for lunch. It is possible that when given the option, he may toss out the pizza and French fries for the veggie burger.

– Submitted by Nancy Parker of eNannySource.com