BODY TALK: WHEN SIZE DOES MATTER; Shape Up with the Fitness Expert Who Trains the Stars; Too Much Junk Food, Computer Games, Television and Lack of Exercise Are Blamed for a Dramatic Increase in Obesity among Children, and It Could Be Harmful to Them

Sunday Mirror (London, England), July 11, 1999 | Go to article overview

BODY TALK: WHEN SIZE DOES MATTER; Shape Up with the Fitness Expert Who Trains the Stars; Too Much Junk Food, Computer Games, Television and Lack of Exercise Are Blamed for a Dramatic Increase in Obesity among Children, and It Could Be Harmful to Them


COUNT your blessings if your child's weight is in the normal range.

Unfortunately, the number of overweight or obese children and teenagers is increasing dramatically, a trend that many health officials are describing as a public health crisis.

Based on current trends world-wide, we will be facing the same problems over the next decade.

The third US National Health and Nutrition examination survey (NHAMES III), conducted from 1988 to 1994 by the National Center of Health Statistics, a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), shows that approximately one in five children in the United States between the ages of six and 17 are overweight.

In the 30 years since NHAMESI was conducted, the number of overweight children in the US has more than doubled.

And it seems children are just keeping up with their parents. The NHANES III study also found that over one-third of adults are overweight.

In Ireland, we have an unrecognised problem of obesity. With our economic affluence, American TV and hamburger restaurants at every street corner, we are bound to overeat ourselves.

Today, children are fatter than their parents were at their age. And as they age, they will inevitably grow up to the monstrous sizes that many Americans now attain.

Size is not the only factor. Overweight children also face some health risks. Being overweight can lead to high blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels, particularly in children genetically prone to these conditions.

Overweight children are also likely to suffer social and psychological stresses because they appear "different" from their peers.

The greatest risks, however, come if children remain overweight into their adulthood lives, which according to studies, is a strong possibility.

Risks

Obese children who become obese adults are at greater risk - at a younger age - of developing heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, gallbladder disease, arthritis and certain cancers.

"If you intervene with overweight children before they are fully grown, you can help them to grow into their weight and prevent them from becoming overweight adults," said Dr Paul Mathias, a lecturer in human nutrition and consultant nutritionist at Sona Nutrition.

"Some overweight children don't need to lose weight as much as they need to gain weight at a slower rate," he said.

During infancy and early adolescence, fat normally increases faster than muscle. Overeating and under-activity during these times make children particularly vulnerable to excessive weight gain.

Some research supports the fat cell theory of obesity. According to this concept, fat cells that are formed in childhood stay with you throughout your life. …

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BODY TALK: WHEN SIZE DOES MATTER; Shape Up with the Fitness Expert Who Trains the Stars; Too Much Junk Food, Computer Games, Television and Lack of Exercise Are Blamed for a Dramatic Increase in Obesity among Children, and It Could Be Harmful to Them
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