Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Battle of the Bulge Wages On

More American children, adolescents, and men have swelled the ranks of the overweight or obese since 1999, while the the decades-long trend of increasing obesity may be leveling off among women, according to new federal statistics.

The study found the percentage of men who are overweight rose to 71 percent in 2003-2004, from 67 percent in 1999-2000. The obese percentage rose to 31 percent, from 27.5 percent.
For women, both the overweight and obese percentages held steady, at about 62 percent and 33 percent, respectively.

U.S. lifestyle factors that have contributed to the obesity epidemic include increases in daily calorie consumption, more eating out and larger portion sizes in restaurants, consumption of more sugary beverages (specially among children), increased time spent in front of computers and televisions, and lack of physical activity.

One factor that may hinder the fight against obesity is doctors’ reluctance to inform children or their parents that a child is overweight. In a study last year, only about half (52%) of overweight teens were informed of their overweight status by a doctor.

Is a discussion of weight out of bounds when talking to a patient? Shouldn't it be one of the first things discussed? Why aren't our healthcare providers providing health care?

"Early recognition and discussion of overweight status is a necessary first step to developing healthier lifelong behaviors. Addressing overweight among children and teens requires recognition by health-care providers, discussion of potential consequences with families, acknowledgment of those consequences by families of affected children, and a commitment to work together toward attaining a healthier lifestyle."

Could this be one reason why we aren't taking strides to reduce obesity? (Obese people are accurate in assessing their height and weight, but only 15 percent think of themselves as obese.)

More news: Hundreds of thousands of obese U.S. children cannot fit into car seats, leaving them at risk in the event of a crash, researchers said.

Another study: Many parents do not identify their child as "overweight." Only about one third of parents correctly identified their child as overweight or at risk for becoming overweight. Researchers recommended that parents "play actively" with their children and "decrease the availability of opportunities for sedentary behavior."

Looks like we have a lot of work to do. And, by work, let's start with 30 minutes per day, every day, of physical activity.


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