Small Lifestyle Changes Combat Obesity in Children and their Families

Pediatricians at the University of Colorado at Denver have shown that very small changes in lifestyle can help stem the epidemic of obesity in North American children. Families of overweight children, seven to fourteen years of age, were asked to make two lifestyle changes: 1) to walk an additional 2000 steps per day, as measured by pedometers, and 2) to eliminate 100 calories per day by replacing a source of dietary sugar with a non-caloric beverage or sweetener. At the end of the six-month trial, most of the children had lost weight and the parents had no significant weight gain. Journal reference

Obesity comes from eating too much and exercising too little. It is associated with increased risk for heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure, certain cancers, diabetes, and premature death. Various studies show that 80 percent of American adults are overweight, and the greatest rate of increase in obesity is occurring in children.

Recent research suggests that one important cause of obesity may be sugared drinks, because calories in liquid form do not suppress appetite as effectively as calories in solid food. Giving toddlers fruit juices and other sugared drinks to quench thirst can form a lifelong habit that sets them up for obesity. Teach your children to drink water or other non-calorie drinks when they are thirsty. The only time it makes sense to consume sugared beverages is during prolonged exercise, where they are a convenient source of energy for muscles that have been depleted of their sugar.


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