In 2008, the US Surgeon General declared that overweight and obesity have reached epidemic proportions in this country. Over nine million children age six to19 are overweight. Physical inactivity and poor diet are catching up on our youth and posing a significant threat to health.
A recent study at Hadassah Hospital, led by Professor Michael Wilchanski, Director of Hadassah's PediatricGastroenterology Unit, demonstrated that the Body Mass Index (BMI) of children who receive additional physical education classes at school is considerably lower than those who do not. The results of the research were published recently in the prestigious medical journals Nature and the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. After two years of research, their findings indicate that increased physical exercise in school may decrease the risk of child obesity. "We recommend adding physical education classes to the curriculum to control weight and teach children practice healthy habits," Prof. Wilschanski said. "Children should be more active; it is important to incorporate more physical activity in the school program. It's as important as math, English and computers." The Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh recommends the following guidelines in prevention of overweight and obesity during childhood and adolescence:
Focus on gradually changing family eating habits and activity levels rather than a child's weight.
Be a role model. Parents who eat healthy foods and participate in physical activity set an example for their children.
Encourage physical activity. Children should have 60 minutes of moderate physical activity each day.
Reduce "screen" time in front of the computer and television
Encourage children to eat slowly and when hungry
Avoid using food as a reward or withholding food as a punishment.
Keep the refrigerator stocked with fat-free foods, fresh fruit and vegetables
Encourage children to drink water rather than beverages with added sugar.
For further information on Hadassah's Eat Right for Life Program contact Women's Health and Wellness firstname.lastname@example.org or 212-303-8094.