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    Posted January 1, 2014 by
    Venice, Florida
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    Fight Childhood Obesity


    Obesity has become an increasingly persistent problem in America, and it strikes children at an alarming rate.  For most of these children there are steps that can be taken to address this problem, and if you're dealing with an overweight child you'll want to read on.


    When dealing with obesity it is essential to take notice of all the changes you and your child should make to your daily life.  Eating healthy is always a must.  This combined with inactivity and a lack of exercise can quickly lead to weight gain and obesity, but did you know that sleep also plays an important role? There are numerous studies that have come out saying that those that don't get enough sleep are at an increased risk for obesity.


    Diet and Exercise


    Diet and exercise are a proven combination for beating obesity and weight gain.  Here are some tips for helping your child lose weight:


    * Remove Processed Foods from the Diet - Instead of eating processed foods with many additives, provide children with foods that are natural and whole. This can help to eliminate many empty and unneeded calories, and it can make it easier for the child to get the proper nutrition.


    * No Sugary Drinks or Sodas - One of the easiest ways to cut calories is to eliminate sugary drinks and instead drink water. The amount of sugar and calories in these drinks can be staggering, and these drinks can increase the risk of obesity by as much as 60 percent.


    * Stop Emotional Eating - After addressing the diet you'll want to make sure that your child isn't emotional eating. Emotional eating is often used by children to deal with low mood states, like anxiety or depression. A child that is already overweight may eat more to deal with the negative emotions associated with being overweight, so it is important to help your child through any emotional troubles when dealing with weight issues.


    Now it's time to take a look at potential lifestyle changes.  First of all, getting plenty of activity and exercise is crucial.  If your child is spending all afternoon in front of the television, they definitely aren't getting enough exercise.  A child needs at the very least 30 minutes of exercise a day, and for some children this can be difficult to enforce.

    Parents may want to consider instituting a rule that allows a child one minute of television or videogame time for every minute spent outside getting physical activity.  Physical activity can also be a good way for families to spend time together.  Going for a bike ride or teaching your child to play tennis or soccer allows for bonding and quality time, as well as time for exercise.  Although high intensity exercise is preferred, low impact exercise, like going for a walk or hike, can also be beneficial.


    Sleep and Weight


    All children need to get the proper amounts of sleep, and this is especially true for children that are overweight.  Research has shown that children who sleep more eat and weigh less.  A study took a look at children between the ages of 8 and 11, and added or detracted an hour and a half from their sleep time.


    When the body doesn't get enough sleep it reduces the amount of leptin that it creates.  Leptin is responsible for telling the brain that it doesn't need food, so a lack of leptin can lead to over eating.  Poor sleep habits can also increase the amount of ghrelin, which is a hormone that tells the body it needs food.  The children that got more sleep in the study ate fewer calories each day and weighed about a half pound less.


    Other studies have also linked a lack of sleep with a higher body mass index.  Researchers have also found that poor sleep can lead to cravings in sugary and starchy foods, and this is believed to be due to the fact that the brain relies on glucose for energy.  When the brain doesn't get enough rest it begins to crave carbohydrates and sugar for energy, which often times leads to an individual eating these foods.


    On average children should get the following amount of sleep:

    * Teenagers - 9 hours

    * Children 6-12 - 10-11 hours

    * Children 3-5 - 11-13 hours

    * Children 1-3 - 12-14 hours



    Childhood obesity is something that needs to be stopped, and more importantly it is something that can be stopped.  If you have a child that is overweight you need to alter their diet to healthier whole foods, and then make sure they are getting the right amount of exercise each day.  You should also look into how much they sleep each night, because poor sleep is linked to weight gain.

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