Child obesity linked to lack of sleep?

By: Dr. Steve Salvatore, Co-Owner of AAPT

How much sleep does your child get on the weekends?  The answer to this question may give you some indication as to whether your child is at risk for gaining weight.  According to a report in the American Journal of Pediatrics, overweight children are more likely to stay up late on the weekends.  The children averaged 8 hours per night throughout the week, but on the weekends the obese children had shorter and more irregular sleep patterns.

If kids do not get enough sleep it starts a vicious cycle triggering hormones that can make them more hungry, hence increasing the risk of obesity even further.  The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that pre-school aged children get 11-13 hours of nightly sleep, while school aged children should get 10-11 hours per night.

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Eating disorders in children on the rise

By: Dr Steve Salvatore, Co-Owner of The Academy

Our country’s obsession with weight and dieting may be taking a toll on young kids, especially boys and minorities.  According to the the American Academy of Pediatrics, an increasing number of children are being admitted to hospitals because of eating disorders.  Hospitalizations increased a whopping 119% between 1999 and 2006 for children younger than 12 years of age.  Eating disorders don’t only affect affluent white females; minorities and boys can develop them too.  Pediatricians are now being urged to do routine screenings for potential signs of eating disorders and stress healthy eating and exercise for kids, rather than focusing on weight.

Obese teens more likely to become obese adults

By: Dr. Steve Salvatore, Co-Owner of The Academy

As the number of obese teenagers rises, so does their risk of becoming severely obese later on in life as adults.  That’s according to a new study published in this weeks JAMA, The Journal of the American Medical Association.  Obesity carries with it serious health risks – life threatening illnesses including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, even arthritis.  Obese adolescents were significantly more likely to become severley obese by their early 30s than individuals who were normal or overweight as adolescents.

In this first of its kind study, more than 8000 teens who were normal weight and overweight, were tracked until they reached adulthood.  For the normal weight teens, about 1-2% became severely obese.  In those who were already obese, 75% of them continued to be severely obese as they became young adults.

The study demonstrates the need for early interventions like teaching young kids the need for a healthier lifestyle long before they become teenagers.  Small changes like going for a family walk and cutting out soda can make a big difference.

Un-happy meals?

There are some very unhappy kids in San Francisco.  That’s because lawmakers there want to ban happy meals that include a toy, unless they meet certain dietary standards.  Under the proposed guidelines, happy meals are required to have fewer than 600 calories and less than 640 grams of sodium.  So for example, if McDonald’s does not adhere to these standards, they’re not allowed to add a toy to their happy meals.   McDonald’s is fighting back saying this is “not what their customers wanted or asked for.”  A final vote is expected next week; if passed, the restrictions be in affect by December.

Personal Training for obese children

Daily health tip: If your child is overweight or obese and just not getting enough activity…consider a personal trainer.  Many people are hiring personal trainers to get their child on track.  Besides the physical benefit, regular exercise can also boost self esteem.