Stories about: obesity

Eating well and feeling good, family-style

A woman holding a bag of fruit.

It’s well known that childhood obesity is a problem in the U.S. But did you know that by the time they enter kindergarten, 12.4% of American children are already obese, and 14.9% are overweight?

It’s never too early to think about healthy eating.

The Optimal Weight for Life (OWL) Program is a multidisciplinary clinic at Boston Children’s Hospital, dedicated to treating children who are overweight or obese, and those with or at risk for type 2 diabetes.

When it comes to a healthy diet — whether you are making new changes or trying to keep up with a routine — it helps to know where you are going. Having a plan can create the background for staying on track with your healthy goals.

Here are some steps to help keep your family eating well and feeling good.

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Seatbelts and bans on big sodas: laws that save lives

I’m sad that a New York judge struck down the 16-ounce size limit for sodas and some other sweet drinks.  I think Mayor Bloomberg had the right idea.

I get that whole personal freedom argument (although the court just said that it was arbitrary and out of Bloomberg’s purview), that this was a “Nanny State” idea. But honestly, when it comes to obesity, we may need nannies to save ourselves—from ourselves.

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Planet Health: How adding preventative care can subtract from healthcare costs

When a child suffers from nutrition related health problems, it can cause a good deal of emotional and financial strain on her family. Obesity-related medical conditions like diabetes, sleep apnea, high blood pressure and cholesterol often lead to pricey medications and doctor visits, and are sometimes tied to emotional issues that can be costly to treat.

On the flip side, eating disorders can have a devastating affect on a person’s health and usually take years of regular therapy to treat successfully.

Treating these conditions in a single child is expensive; when you add together the cumulative costs of treating them on national level, the numbers are astronomical. But researchers from Children’s Hospital Boston and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), have found that a fairly inexpensive health promotion initiative could reduce both obesity and bulimia nervosa in adolescents, potentially saving millions in would-be healthcare costs.

Their study, recently published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, shows that by adopting an educational initiative called Planet Health, five Boston area schools successfully reduced the prevalence of obesity and behaviors linked to bulimia. If these Boston schools are any indication, a nationwide adoption of the program could lead to less obesity and eating disorders on a national level, thereby saving millions in healthcare dollars usually allotted to treating these conditions.

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Children's in the news

Have you heard about the new kids’ book, “Maggie Goes on a Diet”? It’s basically a retelling of the age-old ugly ducking fable, but with a modern twist. In this reenactment, the duckling is a 14-year-old girl who goes on a diet, and with a little hard work goes from being an overweight, self-conscious kid to a star soccer player and the most popular girl in school.

The book may stress the importance of healthful eating and exercise, but many people are finding fault with the author’s emphasis on the thin = happy storyline, instead of focusing on the importance of health.

Among the critics is our own Dr. Claire, who was on New England Cable News this morning to talk about Maggie, childhood obesity and how to send kids the right message about health and weight.

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