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Adults Aren't the Only Ones Affected by Obesity

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Adolescent Obesity is Linked to Early Mortality

Video games, television, computers. Each of these pose health concerns, but increased sedentary time remains a common theme throughout each entertainment mode. Sedentary time is a prominent issue related to obesity, childhood obesity included. Recently, a 45-year study followed the association between body mass index (BMI) of adolescents and cardiovascular diseases and how it affects youth.

BMI is a measure of body fat determined by a height and weight calculation. Based on NIH standards, commonly accepted ranges indicate 18.5-24.9 as normal, 25-29.9 as overweight, and over 30.0 as obese. Teens within the high-normal range (22.0<25.0) have a higher risk of negative cardiovascular outcomes than those in the low-normal end. Yet, teens in the accepted normal range still had an association with non-coronary heart disease and non-stroke cardiovascular outcomes.

That being said, changes to diet, physical activity, and behavior can reduce obesity and BMI in children and adolescents. With the second week of August being “National Exercise With Your Child Week”, this leads to an appropriate opportunity to embrace this movement. Combining behavior change efforts with family involvement has been a theory around for many years. But, what these studies have concluded is understanding the adolescent’s views about such interventions is extremely important for a healthy lifestyle change.

We want our children and teens to have a healthy, positive life. Physical activity should be enjoyable, fun, and something they look forward to doing. Involving your child in picking the type of activity or a healthy meal to make, will not only get them excited, but leads them to be more likely to follow through given the involvement in choosing the activity.

Making healthy choices is a skill of mastery that will last a lifetime and it can start with being a healthy role model yourself. Simply having dinner together lowers BMI in parents and children. So, start the conversation early, have mealtime together, leave the distraction and technology behind. From a dance activity to hopscotch, there are plenty of ways to combine physical activity with fun in August, not to mention stronger bones, better behavior, and improved sleep habits as positive side effects!

Published August 1, 2017

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