Tag: childhood obesity

Childhood Obesity’s Effect on Bone and Joint Health

Over the last few decades, with each passing year our society has gotten fatter and fatter. Obesity has no prejudice, it impacts people of all races, genders, religions, sexual orientation and ages. There seem to be few boundaries that obesity does not trample all over and the problem is only getting worse. It is a huge travesty that we are allowing our nation’s children to become obese such as we are. When we allow this, or help it to happen, we are only dooming our youth to a lifetime of misery at some point. And this point in time is coming earlier and earlier as the obesity epidemic spreads, just think of all the younger people you might know who are all stoved up with what at one time we referred to as exclusively “old people” issues. Look at the younger people in your life, family, friends and coworkers, how many of them suffer from arthritis, back pain or joint issues? Unless you are a hermit living in solitude, odds are great that you know someone who is prematurely handicapped by entirely preventable bone and joint issues. And then take note of how many of these individuals are also over weight or obese.

Getting to a healthy weight or body fat percentage will either greatly help or entirely fix your aches and pains!

If you are one who suffers hip, knee and ankle pains, what are you doing to remedy the pains you live with each day? Are you on pain medications for arthritis? Do you take any anti-inflammatory medications to help you through the day? Have you had to have surgical procedures to fix any of these issues even if they have not come about as a result of an accidental injury? Or for the most important question;

Have you tried to remedy these issues by watching every damn thing you put into your mouth at the dinner table?

You have more control than you think over your aches and pains when they do not come from disease or injuries.

I have heard countless people tell me it is too expensive to eat healthy. To which I say bullshit. Eating less than healthy garbage costs you more than healthy eating ever will. You might save a few dollars at the grocery store when you do your weekly shopping. But these savings will be greatly offset by the expense of doctors visits, medications and therapies.

Have you looked at how much medicines cost now days?

Have you ever paid for a CT Scan, X-rays, and surgical procedures to fix your hip and knee problems?

You can bet that whatever you saved through buying sugary foods and processed garbage was more than ate up by medical expenses. You do not have to live your life with those expenses. You do have the power to control your weight if only you will.

Did you know that for every one pound you weigh, your knees feel the force of three pounds of pressure with each step you take? 

If you are at a healthy weight for your stature, this is not a problem no matter your age. But think of the implications when you are obese. If you weigh in at a whopping three hundred pounds, your knees absorb nine hundred pounds of pressure with each step. This is the kind of force that is absorbed by elite level power lifters when they are squatting or dead lifting competitive weights in the heavyweight class of lifters. Unless you are an elite power lifter, your body cannot handle this kind of abuse for too long before it begins to give you massive problems.

Now just imagine the problems that will arise when you allow your child to become obese!

When I was a kid, we used to get up early and venture out on our bicycles for the day, or maybe we would get together for a game of baseball or Frisbee throwing. We were active and obesity was not common among kids of my generation as it is today. We did not sit in front of video games all day while drinking soda pop and eating cookies and cakes all day long.  Today, approximately 32% of American children and adolescents, ages 2 to 19, are considered overweight or obese. Why the hell did we allow this to happen?

What kind of life is in store for a 12 year old who already weighs in excess of 200 pounds?

Does anyone in their right mind believe a 200 pound 12 year old is not going to have weight related health issues along with mobility issues as they get older? Obesity can cause many health and social problems beginning in childhood, and continuing and intensifying throughout life. These problems include type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, pulmonary disease, metabolic syndrome, obstructive sleep apnea, low self-esteem and depression.

In addition, excess weight can cause vitamin deficiencies, hormonal imbalances, and increased stress and tension that can affect bone growth and overall musculoskeletal health, causing deformity, pain, and potentially, a lifetime of limited mobility and diminished life quality. Obesity is why we have people in their  thirties and forties living as if they were already in their senior years. The younger one is allowed to live an unhealthy life, the earlier these health issues are going to affect them.

The Prevalence of Obesity in the U.S.

Childhood obesity is among the most serious health challenges of the 21st century.

  • Over the past three decades, the prevalence of children in the U.S. who are obese has doubled, while the number of adolescents who are obese has tripled.
  • About one in eight preschoolers (ages 2 to 5) in the U.S. are obese.
  • Children who are overweight or obese as preschoolers are five times as likely as normal-weight children to be overweight or obese as adults.

According to the CDC, the environmental factors that may contribute to excess weight in children and adolescents include:

  • Greater availability of less healthy foods and sugary drinks.
  • Advertising of less healthy foods.
  • Lack of daily, quality physical activity in schools.
  • No safe and appealing place, in many communities, to play or be active.
  • Limited access to healthy foods. If you are a parent, YOU are the one who limits your child’s access to healthy foods!
  • Increasing portion sizes.
  • Greater exposure to television and media. U.S. children ages 8 to 18 spend an average of 7.5 hours a day using entertainment media including TV, computers, video games, cell phones and movies.

Too much weight also can seriously impact the growth and health of bones, joints, and muscles.

Bones grow in size and strength during childhood. Excess weight can damage the growth plate — the area of developing cartilage tissue at the end of the body’s arm, leg and other long bones. Growth plates regulate and help determine the length and shape of a bone at full growth or maturity.

Too much weight places excess stress on the growth plate which can lead to early arthritis, a greater risk for broken bones, and other serious conditions, such as slipped capital femoral epiphysis and Blount’s disease.

What is Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis?

Slipped capital femoral epiphysis is an orthopedic disorder of the adolescent hip. It occurs when the ball at the upper end (head) of the femur (thighbone) slips off in a backward direction due to weakness of the growth plate. The condition can cause weeks or months of hip or knee pain, and an intermittent limp. In severe cases, the adolescent may be unable to bear any weight on the affected leg. (1)

This condition is not rare, and often develops during periods of accelerated growth or shortly after the onset of puberty.

Not rare!

Let that sink into your mind as you gaze at your obese child.

What is Blount’s Disease?

Blount’s disease, or severe bowing of the legs, is another condition in which hormonal changes and increased stress on a growth plate, caused by excess weight, can lead to irregular growth and deformity (1)

In younger children and less severe cases, a leg brace or orthotic may correct the problem. However, surgery may sometimes be needed. Surgery consists of either growth modulation or tibial osteotomy. With growth modulation, use of a metal plate and screws around the growth plate leads to a gradual correction of the bowing over time. With tibial osteotomy, a wedge of bone is removed from the outside of the tibia (shinbone) under the healthy side of the knee. When the surgeon closes the wedge, it straightens the leg.

Children diagnosed as overweight or obese have a higher risk of complications related to these procedures, including infection, delayed bone healing, failure of fixation, and recurrence of Blount’s disease.

Fractures and Related Complications

Children diagnosed as obese or overweight may have a higher risk for fractures (broken bones) due to stress on the bones or because of weakened bones secondary to inactivity. In addition, these children may have more complications that can delay or alter treatment outcomes.

For example, traditional metal implants may not be sufficiently strong to repair broken or misaligned bones. In addition, crutches may be difficult to use for children who are obese or overweight, and cast immobilization may not sufficiently stabilize broken bones. As a result, surgery, in addition to casting, is often required. (1)

Flat Feet

Children who are overweight or obese often have painful, flat feet that tire easily and prevent them from walking long distances. Many children with flat feet are treated with orthotics and stretching exercises focused on the Achilles tendon (heel cord). (1)

Because weight loss is often enough to ease the pain of flat feet, low impact weight reduction exercises, such as swimming, may be recommended.

Impaired Mobility

Children diagnosed with obesity often have difficulties with their coordination, called developmental coordination disorder (DCD). The symptoms of DCD may include:

  • Clumsiness
  • Problems with gross motor coordination such as jumping, hopping or standing on one foot
  • Problems with visual or fine motor coordination, such as writing, using scissors, tying shoelaces or tapping one finger to another

Developmental coordination disorder may impair or limit a child’s ability to exercise, potentially resulting in more weight gain.

Take action on your child’s behalf.

Do your child a favor and instill good nutritional habits early on. Encourage your child to play and exercise. Keep your child active and teach them what healthy nutrition is and what it means to them. As nutritional consultants, it is amazing the number of young people who have reached out to Brenda Sue and myself through our website contact and personally, who have zero clue what it means to eat healthy. It is mind boggling when a twenty year old does not understand that you cannot live on junk food and soda pop and still be able to live a healthy life. It becomes absurd when one does not understand the correlation and causation that bad nutrition and laziness has on your quality of life. It is maddening when one who has had a lifetime of bad nutrition is now unable to break their unhealthy habits even with they have been informed over and over how healthy eating will improve their life quality even as they face their own demise from disease.

Imagine if you will, a point in your child’s life that having a piece of cake or a cookie becomes more important than their own life.

Think it can’t happen?

Then you would be sadly mistaken.

It can…

(1) orthoinfo.aaos.org

Advertisements

Obese Children, What You Need to Know

I hate the fact childhood obesity is even a topic one could dream up for discussion. But in today’s world it is an issue that is growing from year to year. It is a sad fact that the problem has grown enough that weight loss/bariatric surgery is now a procedure being performed on pediatric and adolescent patients. In fact, as I was sipping on my first cup of coffee for the morning while watching the morning news, this was the first topic being discussed after I turned on my television.

How is it that in the United States where we have all the luxuries and technologies to allow us to live full lives with good health, why are we so ignorant as to allow such a childhood obesity problem to even occur in the first place? Can any of  us who are adults say with any hint of honesty that we do not know what causes this problem? Have we become so self absorbed that watching after the health of our own children is not even a priority any more? If you have an over weight or obese child in your home, ask yourself who actually controls the food for your child. Do you only provide them with healthy choices while educating them why? Or, do you give in to Little Johnny every time he throws a temper tantrum for sugary sweet treats instead?

Obesity has not always been the norm.

When I was a child, most kids were skinny as a rail and very active in outdoor play. In the last four decades, the prevalence of obesity in the United States has increased by at least threefold, with a disproportionate rise in low socioeconomic and minority populations. A factor which is making this trend worse is the significant increase in weight related medical complications that used to only be seen in adults.

Let this sink in a second.

Our children are now facing weight related medical complications that used to only be seen in adults!

In 2000, the overall cost of obesity in America was estimated at $117 billion, rivaling medical expenditures attributable to smoking. Expenses for obesity-related hospitalizations in children tripled from $35 million to $127 million from 1979 to 1999. (1) The problem of childhood obesity keeps getting larger with each passing year. Obese children are more likely to become obese adults at risk for increased morbidity and mortality. If your child is becoming or is already overweight or obese you should feel an urgency to get them onto an effective weight loss intervention. Otherwise, that child you love is in for a whole host of lifetime problems:

  • Psychological. Overweight children face discrimination, teasing, bullying, low self esteem, peer rejection and abnormal eating habits. These negative factors increase their risk of engaging in high-risk behaviors such as smoking, drug and alcohol abuse. In addition, accelerated growth and early maturation which is common in overweight children distorts societal expectations out of them. For example, a 12 year old who can pass for 16 will face increased pressures as people will expect more out of them by assuming they are older.
  • Being overweight during adolescence has been associated with negative social and economic consequences, especially for women. Statistically speaking, women who were overweight in early adolescence completed fewer years of advanced education, had a lower family income, higher poverty rate, and were less likely to get married by early adulthood, compared to women who had not been obese during adolescence. (1)
  • Obesity is associated with serious health consequences such as hypertension, coronary artery disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea cancer and osteoarthritis. You might not think there is much risk for your sensitive little girl who suffers from obesity, but you need to know that autopsy studies of overweight children and young adults who died of traumatic causes show early atherosclerotic lesions in the aorta and coronary arteries. Think about this deeply before the next time you give in to your child’s demands for a sweet treat. You may well be causing their early death by not intervening on their behalf when they are over weight. Be their parent, not their friend!
  • Childhood obesity is associated with early puberty. How about we ensure our children do not prematurely grow into adult body’s they do not have the maturity to deal with when it comes to sexual arousal.
  • Overweight children are at a higher risk for developing high blood pressure, dyslipidemia, abnormalities in endothelial function and glucose metabolism, along with high insulin levels and/or insulin resistance. These factors increase the likelihood of your precious child developing coronary heart disease! In a study, 61% of obese children, ages 5 though 10 years already had at least one cardiovascular risk factor. Think about this when you are allowing your child to be sedentary all day, every day, sitting with an electronic device playing video games instead of going outside to romp and play as children are meant to do.
  • Once consider and adult disease, type 2 diabetes is emerging as an epedemic among children, paralleling trends in obesity. In 2000, it was estimated that one in three children born would eventually develop type 2 diabetes. Here we are now in 2019, and the childhood obesity rate has risen significantly as well has the incidents of children developing type 2 diabetes.
  • As far back as the early 1980’s, liver damage similar to that found in alcoholics, but without exposure to alcohol, was reported almost exclusively in overweight children. Fatty liver, or Non-alcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH) is now thought to be the most common cause of liver disease in children, and some researchers link it to metabolic syndrome of hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and diabetes mellitus. Approximately 10 to 25 percent of overweight children have elevated liver enzymes, and a majority may have evidence of NASH on ultrasound or CT scans. While some kids with NASH present with an enlarged liver or right abdominal pain, the vast majority show no symptoms. Think about this, your child could have grave health problems beginning and since they are not showing any symptoms, you will not know until they have progressed to a more serious stage.

As parents, we owe it to our children to raise them with proper nutrition and to get them into physical activities that keep them in good physical condition. It is easier to do so before the problem arises than afterwards. Consider this, obesity interventions, even for children, can be dietary, physical activity, behavioral, pharmacologic, and surgical. Or, any combination of these factors. I can think of no one who would want to put their child through these interventions, especially pharmacological and surgical. I personally could never want my child or grandchildren to require undergoing surgery for a condition that could have been addressed at an early stage, if it was even allowed to occur in the first place. You know, bariatric surgery for a child would be a last ditch effort to save their young life when all else has failed and they are going to die you as a result of morbid obesity.

Take care of this problem early in their young lives. It has been shown that early interventions with children has resulted in long term results than adult obesity programs, Decrease your child’s sedentary times, increase their physical activity and ensure the entire family has adopted healthy dietary habits before you have allowed them to suffer the consequences of obesity. You would not want your child to ruin their health through tobacco, alcohol or drugs. Please do not allow them to ruin their life through bad a calorie dense, nutritionally poor diet.

(1) Obesity in Childhood and Adolescence, Ihuoma Eneli, Karah Daniels Mantinan

Keep Yourself In Balance

As so many are now days, there is a strong possibility that you are addicted to carbohydrates. You may or may not even know this, but either way, there are a few things you really need to understand about your blood sugar levels and how it can be directly affected by the kinds of food you consume each and every day, and how often during each day you might eat them. You might even think this does not apply to you since you eat a wide variety of foods during the course of your day, but have you ever spent any time reading food labels to know that your variety is indeed a variety? There is a strong possibility that all you consume has the same base ingredients of sugar, sodium, unhealthy fats and preservatives.

Every day we do different acts which really require little to no thought. We brush our teeth, shower, dress ourselves and eat our meals while never considering all the combinations of simple thoughts and motor skills which go into these daily tasks. We often just go through our days on auto-pilot and hope that we can make it through to sundown without any calamities. We go through our day without ever thinking about our vital life functions including our control and regulation of our blood sugar. We have numerous basic functions of life that are all on automatic. That is, until we make poor life choices and thereby throw a wrench into the cogs of the precious life we have been blessed with. Then we are seeking medical attention for medicines and treatments which could have been avoided simply through better life choices. You are responsible for your health, your doctor is not.

When life is grand, and we do not have a care in the world, our body still needs to be properly taken care of through good nutrition and exercise in order to keep all of our working parts in fine order. The most basic elements of day to day living depend on this. There are actions happening in our body’s that require no conscious thought, such as what happens when we eat. As we chew our food, saliva is released to help break it down into simple absorbable elements. When we eat sugar laden foods or any type of high carbohydrate foods that tastes sweet our body releases insulin into the blood stream in anticipation of the coming food energy. This energy is broken down into simple sugar (glucose) which is then absorbed into our blood. The more sugary the foods, the more rapidly the sugar is absorbed into our blood. Our blood sugar, insulin and glucagon must be kept in balance, but unfortunately, too many of us never even attempt to maintain any semblance of balance. For this, we have the current obesity epidemic. When you do not maintain a balance with these basic elements, as your blood sugar continues to rise, you will feel weaker, hungrier, moodier, and less motivated unless the motivation involves eating more crap food. This is why we say to only eat complex carbs and zero sugar. Complex carbohydrates (starches and soluble fiber) take longer to be broken down into sugar in your body. The fiber element acts as a braking mechanism to keep your blood sugar and insulin under control.

When you consume a high carbohydrate diet, especially one of simple carbs, your insulin helps to move the blood sugar to different parts of your body, where it is used or stored away. As our blood sugar rises, our insulin opens our individual cells up in order for the blood sugar to bring them energy for growth, repair, and to allow them to accomplish the work they are designed for such as the contraction of our muscles. Our insulin then signals our liver and muscles to store away a small portion of the remaining blood sugar for future use. This remaining blood sugar is converted to first, blood fat, and then it is stored into our body as the fat in our fat cells. Because of the lack of balance which comes from undisciplined eating, we are a now a nation predominately populated by over weight or obese individuals. We must keep our body in balance in order to function as healthy beings. You might believe your gut is posing no problems for you, but aesthetics aside, you and I both know this is a bullshit way of thinking.

You should know there are functions within your body that take place without your control, except for you being able to control what it is you put into your mouth. You have control over the balancing act that must be maintained.

When your blood sugar levels begin to drop over time or from activity, your liver makes a small reserve available for your body’s use. As the liver’s stores begin to be depleted, rising levels of the hormone glucagon begin to signal fat cells to open and contribute to your energy needs. This action is what burns off your body fat. If your blood sugar level seems to never drop because of the sweet treats you eat continuously during the day, your glucagon never gets the opportunity to open your fat cells for energy, therefore you will continue to remain obese. It matters not who or what you are, this is very basic human biology that you cannot ignore without health consequences at some point in your life. Sadly, these consequences that used to only be seen in adults, such as metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure are now being seen in children.

When you eat an excess of simple carbs and sugar laden foods you will continuously have high insulin levels which lead to intense cravings for more sweet foods. The more you give in to this, the more imbalanced your body will be. If you continue to give in to the cravings, you will likely find yourself with type 2 diabetes.

While we recommend you to still consume complex carbohydrates, we are adamant that you should quit eating sugar and simple carbs all together. The only caveat to this is fruit. Fruit is a simple carb, but as there is a fiber component to it, fruit does not pose the same problems as simple carbs without fiber. Know that as with any type addiction, an addiction to carbohydrates will take about ten days, give or take a few, to get past. Once you get past the cravings which come from simple carbohydrates, it becomes much easier to control your appetite. If you maintain a diet during weight loss that is higher in protein while still consuming complex carbohydrate foods, you will find yourself staying satiated much longer through out the day than you would when eating sugary foods. While you will still get hungry, the hunger will be more of a mild annoyance than a bothersome craving.

Suffering obesity and all the ailments which accompany it are a matter of your personal life choices. You, and you alone are responsible to maintain the balance that your body requires for optimal health. It is not anyone else’s fault when you contract type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure or metabolic syndrome. It is all on you and the responsibility to get well if you have fallen to these conditions are not your doctors responsibility to repair. It will only be your own blood on your own hands when your health goes south on you.

Live well, keep yourself in balance.