When it comes to fighting childhood obesity, what we really need are some practical ideas. By practical ideas I mean ones that families can implement easily, without spending money or missing work or having big arguments with the kids. The latest edition of the journal Pediatrics has not just one but four practical ideas. Full story »
Last week, sports fans collectively gasped with sympathetic pain when Kevin Ware, a 20-year-old basketball player from the University of Louisville, suffered a devastating leg injury during a nationally televised NCAA tournament game. In an attempt to block an opponent’s shot, Ware leapt into the air and landed in such a way that shattered two bones in his leg—the tibia and fibula—just below his right knee.
The tibia break was especially gruesome, with the bone not only breaking, but ripping through his skin and protruding outward. (An injury known as a compound fracture.) In addition to being very painful, compound fractures can be harder to treat than typical breaks and carry an increased risk of infection.
“Anytime you have a fracture there is the risk of infection,” says Boston Children’s Hospital’s Division of Sports Medicine doctor Michael Beasley, MD, who along with thousands of other people watched the injury live on television last Sunday. “But when that fracture also breaks the skin the risk of infection to the surrounding muscle and tendons increases. You also significantly increase the risk of infection in the bone, which can be very troubling if not caught early.” Full story »
When it comes to achieving a healthy weight, nutrition is only one part of the process. Adding exercise to the mix helps build heart health and strength, and—perhaps of equal importance—it also helps build self-confidence.
While regular exercise is paramount, it’s not always easy for a teenager to join their high school’s competitive teams to stay in shape. “It’s hard to tell a kid to join something like soccer if they’ve never done it before, and their peers have been doing it since they were toddlers,” says Sarah Picard, MA, Med, physical activity specialist at Boston Children’s Optimal Weight for Life (OWL) Program.
This year with the help of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center, Picard created a solution to that problem, and established OWL on the Water—a joint program with Community Rowing Inc. that allows OWL patients to form an exclusive rowing team, thereby providing habitual exercise and promoting teamwork. Full story »
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. Full story »
February is heart month—a great time to think about heart health. While we tend to think of heart disease as a problem of adults, it can start in childhood—and the health habits of childhood have everything to do with heart health in adulthood.
So as we finish up February, here are six things that parents can do to give their children the best chance of a healthy heart for life: Full story »
After TEDMED classified childhood obesity as one of its Top 20 Great Challenges of 2012, the public was invited to submit questions about the state of the epidemic and how we might go about reducing childhood obesity. Of these questions, 10 were selected by TEDMED and posed to Ludwig. Here are his responses.
1. What are the top 10 causes of obesity in children, and which ones can be reduced or prevented?
2. Apart from the genetic component of childhood obesity, what do we know about parents’ roles in influencing their children’s weight?
3. Are there affordable and effective programs to reduce childhood obesity that can be reproduced on a large scale?
4. Should we be concerned that campaigns against childhood obesity might have an unintended negative consequence of actually increasing the risk of eating disorders?
5. Studies reveal extraordinary variances in rates of childhood obesity among different groups, such as some Native Americans and African-American teenage girls. Why is this, and how should we address the issue in a culturally sensitive way?
6. What do we know about the impact of food advertising aimed at children, and how effective has voluntary restraint (on the part of food companies, restaurants, etc.) been in combating any negative effects?
7. Because of the relationship between obesity and the development of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, today’s children could be the first generation to have a shorter lifespan than their parents. Which elements of society (including but not limited to care providers, citizens, government, business, religious institutions, or any other group) should play a role in combating this problem, and what steps should they take?
8. Kids spend an average of 7.5 hours a day in front of various kinds of screens (phone, TV, computer, video game). Does this play a role in childhood obesity and, regardless, might screens also be enlisted as part of the solution to childhood obesity?
9. How do gender differences and body image issues influence childhood obesity and how should programs to address childhood obesity take these differences into account?
10. Schools have undertaken a number of special initiatives to combat childhood obesity, including: offering healthier lunches; eliminating soda from vending machines; and weighing students, then sending parents “fat” report cards. Do these programs make a difference? What can and should schools do to help their students achieve and maintain a normal weight?
Our approach at the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center Boston Children’s Hospital is as extensive as childhood obesity itself—focusing not only on patient care, but also on clinical research, advocacy and community education, and on developing innovative treatments to effectively address each patient’s individual biology and behavior.
The Center’s clinical arm—The Optimal Weight for Life Program—is one of the largest and most respected childhood obesity clinics in the country, and we’ll continue to fight, treat and prevent obesity until every child is well. Request an appointment at one of our Boston, Waltham or Peabody locations.
Today is World Pediatric Bone and Joint Day, so it’s time to bone up on bone health. Though we’ve all heard the basics of why kids should drink milk and build strong bones, this day serves as a reminder of why it’s so important.
Though osteoporosis (a disease that causes bone loss and makes bones fragile and breakable) usually appears in adults, bone is living, growing tissue, so building strong bones throughout childhood can help kids stay strong through adulthood, and help prevent osteoporosis. Kids’ bones begin to mature in the late teen years, so the sooner they start building a strong skeleton, the longer it will stay with them. We know on average women have lower bone mass than men, which makes good dietary and exercise habits early in life very important for young girls and teens. Full story »
If we really want to decrease childhood obesity, do you know what we need to do?
Fight parental obesity.
I’m serious. We’ve known for a while that what puts a child at biggest risk of being obese is having an obese parent, and just recently a study was released that said the same thing. Having an obese parent is a bigger risk factor than watching tons of TV or having a bad diet or never exercising. If we could get parents to a better weight, the researchers said, we could cut childhood obesity in half. Full story »
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