Twin States Obesity

Number one and number two, that's how the twin states stack up when it comes to national rankings and obesity. With more than 25 percent of Mississippi’s population obese and Alabama not far behind, healthcare officials say this is an epidemic only gets worse when it comes to children who grow up in poverty.

According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children who grow up in poverty are more than twice as likely to be obese. The question now, why?

“Because people in poverty don't have the resources."

Evelyn Acklin is the local Health and Nutrition Agent for Mississippi State University's Extension Service.

"Some families are on food stamps and once those food stamps run out, by the middle of the month, they don't have the money to buy the food. Usually, that's when they end up eating those foods with high calories, sweets and chips and candy bars for snacks instead of nutritious foods."

This is something which many people agree with, since healthy foods are often more pricey to the pocket. Although eating healthy can be costly, statistics show that eating unhealthy can ultimately have an even higher price tag, but in another way, and that's healthwise.

Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that people who are obese are almost:

  • 6 times more likely to develop hypertension.
  • 4 times more likely to develop adult onset diabetes.
  • 2 times as likely to have high cholesterol.

It's also been linked to some types of cancer and even arthritis.

With a growing number of fitness clubs and weight management agencies popping up, health officials say slowly but surely things are changing for the better.

"People are wanting to be healthier," says Joy Robinson who manages Doctor's and Nurse's Weight Loss Center in Meridian. "People want to change their lifestyle. Sometimes you've got to go where you've got somebody you can be accountable to and that makes a lot of difference."

If that's what works, that's what healthcare officials are encouraging people to do, especially when it comes to matters that could mean life or death!

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Obesity in Children

  • In 1999, 13 percent of children aged 6 to 11 years and 14 percent of adolescents aged 12 to 19 years in the United States were overweight.

  • Risk factors for heart disease, such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure, occur with increased frequency in overweight children and adolescents compared to children with a healthy weight.

  • Type 2 diabetes, previously considered an adult disease, has increased dramatically in children and adolescents. Overweight and obesity are closely linked to type 2 diabetes.

  • Overweight adolescents have a 70 percent chance of becoming overweight or obese adults. This increases to 80 percent if one or more parent is overweight or obese.

  • Overweight or obese adults are at risk for a number of health problems including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and some forms of cancer.

  • The most immediate consequence of being overweight or obese as perceived by the children themselves is social discrimination. This is associated with poor self-esteem and depression.

Cause of Obesity

  • Obesity in children and adolescents is generally caused by lack of physical activity, unhealthy eating patterns, or a combination of the two, with genetics and lifestyle both playing important roles in determining a child's weight.

  • Our society has become very sedentary. Television, computer and video games contribute to children's inactive lifestyles.

  • Forty-three percent of adolescents watch more than two hours of television each day.

  • Children, especially girls, become less active as they move through adolescence.

Identification

  • Doctors and other health care professionals are the best people to determine whether your child or adolescent's weight is healthy, and they can help rule out rare medical problems as the cause of unhealthy weight.

  • A Body Mass Index (BMI) can be calculated from measurements of height and weight. Health professionals often use a BMI "growth chart" to help them assess whether a child or adolescent is overweight.

  • A physician will also consider your child or adolescent's age and growth patterns to determine whether his or her weight is healthy.

General Suggestions

  • Let your child know he or she is loved and appreciated whatever his or her weight. An overweight child probably knows better than anyone else that he or she has a weight problem.

  • Overweight children need support, acceptance, and encouragement from their parents.

  • Focus on your child's health and positive qualities, not your child's weight.

  • Try not to make your child feel different if he or she is overweight but focus on gradually changing your family's physical activity and eating habits.

  • Be a good role model for your child. If your child sees you enjoying healthy foods and physical activity, he or she is more likely to do the same now and for the rest of his or her life.

Physical Activity Suggestions

  • Be physically active. It is recommended that Americans accumulate at least 30 minutes (adults) or 60 minutes (children) of moderate physical activity most days of the week. Even greater amounts of physical activity may be necessary for the prevention of weight gain, for weight loss, or for sustaining weight loss.

  • Plan family activities that provide everyone with exercise and enjoyment.

  • Provide a safe environment for your children and their friends to play actively; encourage swimming, biking, skating, ball sports, and other fun activities.

  • Reduce the amount of time you and your family spend in sedentary activities, such as watching TV or playing video games. Limit TV time to less than two hours a day.

Source: http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/topics/obesity/calltoaction/fact_adolescents.htm (The Surgeon General's Call to Action Web site)


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