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Connect with Kids  

March 2016


Obesity: Trends and Consequences
“This could well be the first generation of children (whose) whole life expectancies will be less than their parents.  We have no record of this happening in the entire history of human kind.”
--Dr. David Satcher, M.D., PH.D., Former Surgeon General, commenting in the Connect with Kids documentary, The Biggest Generation
Scientific research, academic studies and stories in the media all report increasing trends in overweight children and childhood obesity. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 12.5 million children ages 2 to 19 are considered medically obese; 16 percent of children age 6 to 19 years are considered overweight. Obesity has become the number-one concern for parents, ahead of drug abuse and cigarette smoking. Obesity’s consequences are real and dangerous, including both medical and emotional outcomes that no parent wants for a child. Medical studies from the CDC show that obese children are more likely to have high blood pressure and cholesterol; breathing problems such as sleep apnea and asthma; joint problems; and gastrointestinal disorders such as gallstones, reflux and heartburn.
The CDC additionally reports that obese children and adolescents have a greater risk of social and psychological problems, such as being bullied, discriminated against and/or excluded from peer groups. This can lead to poor self-esteem and body-image issues, which often continue into adulthood.
The good news is: there are ways to help reverse the trend.

The results of physical activity are both immediate and long-term: studies show that active children sleep better, eat better, have strong bones (especially important for teenage girls) and strong muscles, are academically successful and are more likely to feel good about their self-image. According to an article in European Psychologist, researchers have also found connections between fitness and brain function, such as improved cognitive thinking skills, concentration and memory; and reductions in stress and anxiety.
Making even small lifestyle and nutrition changes can go a long way toward keeping healthy:
  • Replace television-viewing with an active outside activity like walking
  • Participate in a sport that focuses on doing your personal best. These include track and field, gymnastics, swimming, and tennis, to name a few. Activities you may find in your community include hiking; dance; swimming; rowing; and many more. There’s a physical activity for everyone.
  • Do chores that require physical activity.
  • Eat meals as a family as often as possible. Eat slowly and chew well to reduce over eating, as it takes 20 minutes for the brain to signal the body that it is full.
  • Drink water instead of sugary drinks or sodas.  Flavor your water with citrus fruits such as slices of lemon, lime, or orange.
  • Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables.
  • Pay attention to portion size.  Avoid “supersizing” and combo meals when ordering out.

Reading the Labels
The American Heart Association (AHA) guidelines recommend that children ages 4 to 8 consume no more than three teaspoons of sugar a day, and that pre-teens and teenagers consume no more than five to eight teaspoons. However, according to a Department of Agriculture survey, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) estimates the average teenage boy consumes 868 cans of soda a year, or about two and a half cans a day; the average teen girl drinks 628 sodas a year or approximately two cans a day. With so much sugar consumed from one beverage, it is easy to see how this “liquid candy” has contributed to such heavy weight gain in children and teens.
Sugar is only one culprit in the growing health concerns for our children. The AHA recommends a daily sodium consumption limit of less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) a day – or less than one teaspoon of salt. But according to a 2012 study published in the journal Pediatrics, children consume an average of
3,387 milligrams of sodium a day. Studies have shown a link between sodium consumption and high blood pressure, which can also lead to cardiovascular disease.
To maintain a healthy diet, it is important to also watch your carbohydrate intake. Carbohydrates are categorized as simple or complex. Simple carbs include sugars such as lactose, glucose and fructose. Complex carbs include starches and fiber found in many fruits, vegetables and whole-grain
products. The 2010 USDA dietary guidelines recommend that Americans eat more complex and unrefined carbohydrates (often called “good” carbohydrates) and to increase whole-grain consumption. 

In a healthy diet, it isn't always easy to tell which foods are good choices just by looking at the packaging. Even packages that state “fat-free” can include high levels of carbohydrates, sugar or sodium. Ingredients are listed in descending order by weight; that means that the first ingredient makes up the largest proportion of the food. Experts at the Harvard School of Public Health suggest that parents read the Nutrition Facts on food labels and take into account the total number of carbohydrates, sodium, sugar and fats as they relate to the USDA Recommended Daily Amounts (RDA) or Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI).
Learn More:

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
American Academy of Pediatrics
Children’s Defense Fund
European Psychologist, “Weekly exercise consistently reinstates positive mood.” Steinberg, H., Nicholls, B. R., Sykes, E. A., LeBoutillier, N., Ramlakhan, N., Moss, T. P., & Dewey, A.
Kaiser Family Foundation
“One in Five Kids Has Unhealthy Cholesterol Levels: Study” by Maggie Fox
Health, December 10, 2015
Palo Alto Medical Foundation for Healthcare, Research and Education (PAMF)
“Passing on healthy eating habits to our kids”
Make sure kids eat breakfast, take water to school to drink, every day.
President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition
United Health Care
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)  
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
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To learn more about CWK please contact Angela Tagliareni:
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Connect with Kids is based out of Atlanta, Georgia and has been in business for over 15 years.  We own one of the nation’s largest evidence-based, non-fiction video libraries on student behavior and parent engagement and address issues such as bullying and violence prevention, character and life skills, attendance and achievement, health and wellness, digital citizenship, drug and alcohol prevention and college and career readiness.   Our company works with school districts to assess their needs in these areas and builds custom websites with video programs; lesson plans and parent resources that are accessible to the entire community including all parents.  Connect with Kids is listed as an Effective Producer of Programs on the U.S. Department of Education's What Works Clearinghouse List and is also listed on the  Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA) and the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP).