Obesity & Weight Management is a Social Issue

Much has been written about obesity and globesity. Obesity is perhaps the biggest drain on any nations economic resources with a mind-boggling costs to which researchers are yet to put a final figure. But the estimates run into trillions of dollars across the world.

Governments across the world is mired in deep bureaucratic mechanisms to do anything more than put out food guidelines. Even this does not reach the intended public.

The issue needs to be tackled massively by the society that has spawned the problem in the first place.

So what are the social alternatives?

Dissemination of Information

This perhaps could be biggest tool to use against the fight for obesity control. Every institution from schools and collages to corporate have to disseminate, nay flood their audience with information on obesity and weight control, its evils, cost to individuals and food guidelines to control obesity. The stakes now are too high for everyone for the issue to be left to government alone to tackle.

Social Boycott of Fast food joints

A massive campaign especially aimed at the youth on the perils of a fast food culture and how it is eating into the very vitals of a healthy society. The campaign may include ‘No Fast Food’ days, creation of nutritional communities and clubs that actively protest the opening of new fast food joints in the local community. Nutritional communities may bring pressure on the fast food companies to put out nutritional information on the food they serve.

Promote Physical Activities

Every one especially children must be educated on the benefits of increased physical activities. The computer and television has been a major inhibitor of good health among children and adults alike. The community should raise funds to promote physical culture events and create awareness through public interest advertising.

Lobby the Government

There should be an effective lobbying to legislate laws against fast food and junk food companies, carbonated drinks and beverages that promote high calorie junk full of toxic chemicals disguised as fruit juices.

Promote Health foods and herbal nutrition

Traditionally herbal food supplements have less cause to create trouble. Increase awareness about Herbal food items and herbal nutritional supplements that promote physical wellness, build immunity and helps in reducing body fat. Awareness of the health effects and the bio friendly nature of herbal food supplements would definitely help in combating the problem largely.

Its time for the society to act to control the menace of obesity, take responsibility so that our future generations may lead a better and more qualitative life and enjoy the fruits of all the modern scientific developments.

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Two Childhood Obesity Prevention Programs That Have Actually Been Proven to Work

In the wake of the September 19th, 2006 Institute of Medicine report that collectively documents our nation’s failure to address the childhood obesity crisis, I’d like to talk about two programs that have actually been proven to work under real life conditions.

PE4Life in Naperville, IL

The first, PE4Life, is a well organized, well funded, and scientifically documented project whose model program flourishes at Madison Junior High, School District # 203 in Naperville, IL. PE4Life in Naperville is headed up by Phil Lawler, former physical educator and coach who now serves as the Director of the PE4Life Academy, an affiliated project that’s designed to show interested physical educators and educational administrators from around the nation how Madison Junior High’s PE4Life program works.

Only Three Percent of Our Kids are Obese…

In School District # 203 only 3% of their students are obese. Compare that to over 15% nationally, and you’ll see why decision makers from around the nation are flocking to Lawler’s PE4Life Academy to find out what he knows that the rest don’t know. “We’ve trained people from forty different states and five foreign countries,” observed Lawler. “I’d say that’s a pretty good indicator of the interest levels in this program, wouldn’t you agree?”

Corporate Sponsors

PE4Life can boast of corporate sponsors including companies like Reebok, Asics, Gatorade, Quaker Oats, Life Fitness, and Dick’s Sporting Goods just to name a few. And anyone visiting Madison Junior High will be blown away by the cutting edge training equipment that Lawler has attracted to this program. “In all honesty, there are NFL, NBA, and MLB trainers who would be green with envy if they saw the equipment that we have,” Lawler said. “In a very real sense Madison Junior High is the Mecca for kid’s fitness in America today.”

For Example…

For example, when MJH students hustle in at the end of gym class, it’s common to see every student in class placing his or her Polaris heart rate monitor back in its appropriate location before heading off to the showers. “Polaris has graciously provided us with enough heart rate monitors to cover every student in class. And with the help of these devices, our kids learn all about their own cardiovascular system, and how exercise affects it,” Lawler said.

Each student works with this kind of equipment several times a week and they learn about fitness in a very hands-on way. “When they graduate from high school they’ll have all the info necessary to keep themselves fit for the rest of their life,” said Lawler.

The PE4Life curriculum takes its students beyond cardio fitness, venturing into strength development, agility, quickness, and flexibility. So it’s not only the high tech, 21st century characteristics that distinguish this unique program apart from almost everything else in the nation. It’s the cutting edge comprehensiveness that really makes it stand out.

The PE4Life Academy

There are good reasons why physical educators and educational administrators travel great distances to see, hear, taste, smell, and touch what Lawler’s students are doing. And that hands-on informational experience is called the PE4Life Academy.

“I get calls from some of the top professors in some of America’s top colleges and universities who come from various parts of the nation in order to see what our kids are doing differently here in District #203. We’ve worked hard for over a decade to bring this program to life, and I think it’s safe to say that our entire community takes pride in what our kids have accomplished. It’s one of those things that distinguishes Naperville and makes it such a great place to live.”

Much More Than Just a Childhood Obesity Prevention Strategy

I reality PE4Life is much more than just a childhood obesity prevention strategy. It’s a fully equipped, fully funded, comprehensive kid’s fitness project whose most eloquent claim to fame is that it’s been tested under real world circumstances, and it has proven to be effective. And in a world full of hand wringing and theoretical talk, projects that actually work tend to stand out. For a full explanation just Google PE4Life and you’ll get all the info you’ll want.

Operation Pull Your Own Weight

On the other side of the tracks (literally on the other side of the Mississippi River) sits another childhood obesity prevention program that’s also been proven to work. It’s called Operation Pull Your Own Weight (OPYOW), and in almost every conceivable way OPYOW is the polar opposite of Naperville’s PE4Life.

One Part of an At Risk Grant

OPYOW was developed at Jefferson Elementary School from 1990-1994*, and was originally underwritten by a state of Iowa At-Risk Grant that aimed to improve the self esteem and related performances of the kids who attended Jefferson School.
“OPYOW was the physical component of the self esteem recipe that we were asked to develop,” said former Jefferson School Principal Henry Reams. “It was based on the old gym teacher’s observation that kids who can do pull ups, can’t be obese. So the more Jefferson students who learned to pull their own weight, the fewer we’d have doing battle with obesity and related issues. And as we all know, obesity drags a kids self esteem down faster than anything you can think of,” said Reams.

Financing OPYOW With Spare Change

Although the grant covered the salaries and related expenses for four teachers, there was almost no budget for fitness equipment, and certainly no corporate sponsors. So Reams and company drove to the local Farm and Fleet, where with pennies from the spare change drawer they financed all the materials required to build sixteen height adjustable pull up bars (one for every K-2 classroom in school), the only equipment necessary to implement the program.

They asked an Industrial Arts class at Davenport Central High to cut the pipe and chains to the right length, and the district’s maintenance department to install one height adjustable pull up bar in every (sixteen) K-2 classroom in school. “I know we spent less than $200 dollars to outfit this entire aspect of the grant. You might say we funded OPYOW on a shoestring, begging, borrowing, and stealing everything we needed to get started. But if you check the results, it’s hard to be unimpressed with what our students accomplished,” said Reams.

What Were the Results?

So what exactly were the results of OPYOW? Over a four year period, from the fall of 1990 through the spring of 1994 hundreds of Jefferson School students not only developed the ability to do pull ups, but they also learned to look forward to their opportunity to get on the pull up bar and get stronger day after day, week after week, and month after month. “I’ve known lots of kids who want to be bad, but I’ve never met one that wants to be weak, in any way. And with OPYOW we taught students how to get strong in all kinds of ways,” Reams said.

What Else Did They Learn?

What else did Jefferson kids learn in OPYOW you ask? “Our kids learned that given the opportunity, they could tackle a difficult task by working at it regularly, making thin slices of progress over a period of time, and in the end they learned to expect success,” Reams said.
Jefferson’s students also learned that there are six things that increase your strength on the pull up bar, including…

o regular work

o eating right

o getting enough rest

o avoiding tobacco

o avoiding alcohol

o avoiding drugs

“Interestingly enough, when these same six strength building principles are applied to academics they make kids stronger in reading, writing, and arithmetic too,” Reams added.

Nobody Else Can Do It For You

One other thing Jefferson students learned from working on a pull up bar was that nobody else can do the work for you. “On the pull up bar our students learned that they had to take responsibility for getting their own work done, eating right, getting their rest, and avoiding tobacco, alcohol, and drugs. If they failed to do these things, the pull up bar knew immediately and denied the public success that all kids crave. It was a real eye opener,” Reams said, “and that may be the single most important thing our kids learned from OPYOW.”

OPYOW Shortcomings

What are the shortcomings of OPYOW? “The biggest void in the program was that it was built on the anecdotal observation that kids who can do pull ups can’t be obese,” said Reams. “In other words, to my knowledge nobody has ever compared the BMI’s of kids who can do pull ups against kids who can’t do pull ups in order to scientifically prove that they’re a legitimate antidote to obesity. By the same token nobody has ever tried to prove that your nose is located on your face either. Maybe both are too intuitively obvious to attract academia,” he added.

A second criticism of OPYOW claimed that, by virtue of focusing on one exercise alone, it lacked the comprehensiveness that characterizes all well conceived programs. “But the people who made those claims failed to see that this program never claimed to be comprehensive. Its only claim was that it’s a functional antidote to obesity…nothing more, nothing less. If you can do pull ups, you can’t be obese. By the same token, to the degree that it successfully discourages obesity, it also reduces the workload on the participant’s heart 24/7,” Reams said.

What Jefferson School students did prove beyond a shadow of a doubt was that, given the right opportunity, almost all kids can learn to perform pull ups. “And to the degree that the old coach’s intuition is true, Operation Pull Your Own Weight is the simplest and most efficient childhood obesity prevention strategy anyone ever devised,” Reams added with a smile.

PE4Life Shortcomings?

How about shortcomings in PE4Life? This program has all the scientific documentation that anyone could ever want. They have money. They have equipment. They have nice neighborhoods and well funded schools. They have a comprehensive 21st century fitness strategy that successfully combats obesity. And school districts that have plenty of money should definitely check it out and see if PE4Life is the answer to their problems.

Lawler suggests that the stakes are now so high that we can no longer afford to use the excuse that school districts can’t afford a viable obesity prevention program. By the same token there are 45,000,000 people in America today who are unable to afford health insurance, and it does little good to tell them that their lack of money is no excuse. They’re still unable to afford health insurance no matter how you spin it. Are school districts any different?

Equipment Dependency VS Free Agency

On the other hand, even if your school district is overflowing with funds, the PE4Life orientation tends to produce students who are dependent on the high tech equipment that the program is built around. In other words, without access to expensive, high tech, 21st century fitness equipment, PE4Life has little to offer.

In contrast OPYOW creates students who are dependent on a ten dollar, doorway pull up bar, or the closest tree limb. You could call it Tom and Huck fitness. Their expressed goal is what they call Free Agency (no dependency), and they claim that it’s Mother Nature’s antidote to childhood obesity. Now is anyone suddenly feeling a strong desire for a banana?

Beginning of Sidebar

Similarities between PE4Life and OPYOW include…

o Both have succeeded under real life (as opposed to theoretical) conditions

o Both put the responsibility for success in the hands of the student

o Both were developed by guys from Iowa

o Both feature life long lessons that are tucked in between the lines

Differences between PE4Life and OPYOW

o PE4Life was built on empirical data, OPYOW was built on common sense

o PE4Life requires plenty of money, OPYOW can be implemented on a shoestring

o PE4Life requires lots of equipment, OPYOW requires a height adjustable pull up bar

o PE4Life requires extensive training, OPYOW can be taught by any parent volunteer

o PE4Life requires lots of space for equipment, OPYOW requires no extra space

o PE4Life requires several hours per week, OPYOW requires five minutes per week

o PE4Life encourages equipment dependency, OPYOW encourages free agency

o PE4Life requires a “professional setting,” OPYOW can easily be taught at home

o PE4Life’s strength is its comprehensiveness, OPYOW’s strength is its simplicity

o PE4Life is more than obesity prevention, but for OPYOW that’s the whole enchilada

o PE4Life is alive and kicking, OPYOW ran out of funding over a decade ago

End of Sidebar

The Choice is Yours

So if you have plenty of money, space, equipment, and time to train your trainers, then PE4Life may be a viable option. On the other hand if your school is short on funds, your teachers are already overloaded to the gills, and you have almost no extra time in your curriculum, then the simplicity of Operation Pull Your Own Weight may be more your cup of tea.

*Despite four years of well documented success, OPYOW has been inactive since the grant ran out in the spring of 1994. But with childhood obesity running rampant, there’s a movement afoot to breathe life back into this simple, cost effective, tried and true childhood obesity prevention strategy that’s been proven to work. They’re in the market for corporate sponsors.

Child Obesity and Diet

This article is looking at child obesity as the result of poor diet. Medical conditions resulting in child obesity, or the physical appearance of obesity, are issues to be discussed with your physician and beyond the scope of this article.

If you are concerned about your child possibly being overweight then you need to decide whether the excess weight is part of a growth pattern, that may change over time, or whether there is a weight problem. Your doctor will advise you on this. Child obesity can result in an increase in health problems. Don’t be embarrassed about seeking help, your doctor would rather treat child obesity or teen obesity now, than diabetes or heart disease later.

Statistics show that the level of child obesity in America is amongst the highest in the world, and a major cause is a diet of fast food, or food that is high in fat or sugar. Most children, with a change in diet and an increase in exercise, should see an improvement.

Look at the diet of your child. Is it mainly takeaways and processed food? These often contain high levels of fat, sugar and salt and should be cut back. Snacking is a bad habit, think of the calories in a candy bar! Fizzy drinks can also pile on the weight, when pure water is what the body really needs.

Every parent should try to implement the 5 A Day program. At first it may seem difficult to serve five portions of fruit and vegetables, never mind persuading your child to eat them, but if you study a list of suitable foods it is surprising how varied a diet you can provide. A glass of orange juice at breakfast, a banana mid- morning, beans or salad for lunch, fresh or frozen vegetables with dinner, dried fruit as a snack, the list is endless once you start looking. Having found the right food, the next problem is persuading your child to eat it . Try making small changes gradually altering the eating habits of the whole family. Unless a child is very overweight, maintaining the present weight without increasing it and letting the child grow to absorb the excess fat, is better than dramatic dieting. Ask your doctor about this as he can make a decision based on your child’s age and weight.

One idea worth considering is to appeal to your child’s consideration for others. Nowadays there is a lot of publicity given to world poverty and children are generally responsive to the needs of others. Get your child to add up how many dollars you spend monthly on expensive fast food, snacks and fizzy drinks, then consider spending that money on sponsoring a child. If your child feels he is helping to feed or educate another, it may well be the incentive needed. If you feel you cannot make such a commitment, why not just have a poverty jar, every time your child eats a piece of fruit instead of a candy bar, put a few cents into the jar and then let him/her chose which charity to give it to. But don’t make him feel guilty about others, anorexia isn’t healthy either!

The next thing to consider is increasing the amount of exercise your child takes and cutting the number of hours that television is watched. Overweight children find exercise difficult so start by increasing it slowly. Just walking a few hundred yards daily is a start. Your child may try to avoid exercise, but remember he may have been teased at school about being fat and failing to be athletic. As weight is lost, exercise will become easier and confidence increase, then he will become more willing to try new sports.

Finally remember that children need the support of the whole family if they is going to lose weight. If everyone follows a sensible diet your child is much more likely to succeed.

Why Is Obesity Growing Out Of Proportion?

According to some stats, almost a third of people in the Western world are obese or overweight and the rate is increasing. This trend seems ongoing were people are just snacking their way to obesity, and it looks like it is not going to slow down any time soon. We ask ourselves the question: Where does obesity come from? What’s the cause of it, why is it almost an epidemic? There are several reasons for obesity although food is the major cause.

There is no denying that society itself has developed a weight problem and some of the consequences are starting to show themselves in the form of many illnesses. Chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and whatever comes along is an open invitation by obesity. Not suggesting everything was rosy in the 1960s but live styles were different. In our own work related environment there is always some sort of system in place we are using or being guided by; our body also functions on a system. Our body has an energy system which must at least be equal; that means your energy in equals your energy out. The energy going into your body are the calories you get from food and drinks. Energy going out of your body, being used for physical activity. To keep a healthy weight, your energy in and out must balance on average. This doesn’t mean it has to balance every day exactly but it has to on average. If there is more energy going in every day, than going out means weight gain. More energy out than energy in over time means weight loss.

The body has its system but it is up to us how to take advantage of it. Losing weight simply comes down to burn more calories than you take in. In other words eat less and exercise more. When it comes to snacking this can play a significant role in how successful or unsuccessful you are at losing weight.

Every household has one: The television is a good example in fattening people, by just constantly reaching out for those snacks of which are most unhealthy, and the more television they watch the fatter they get. It also starts at a young age with marketing strategies directed at children being influenced and exploited through packaging and advertising.

Snacking can serve a purpose for some. The purpose of snacking is to take away the edge of hunger between meals. As long as this is within reason and without exceeding your caloric needs for the day. Appropriate snacking means consuming a small amount of nutrients dense food to give your body energy to help you through the following hour or two before your next meal. Snacking can have a benefit; unfortunately most do it incorrectly or for the wrong reason. Snacking can start through boredom, stress, anger, depression, frustration etc. When snacking without proper intent it’s more common to make poor choices and use the wrong food.

Do it right and snack once or twice during the day, between your main meals and only when you are hungry. You should choose foods rich in proteins and / or fibre, as they tend to give greater satiety, and also be aware of the amount. You may have noticed that dinner plates and containers have increased in size, and portions become bigger over the years. Following misguided advice about food for decades doesn’t help the weight situation. Food eaten in the seventies was natural, which included natural fat that had nutritional value, and obesity was not an issue than.

Obesity is a concern because it is the trigger point for many health conditions. The real cause when it comes to weight gain that can lead to diabetes and heart disease, are sugar, processed carbohydrates and processed foods in general. Back in the seventies health experts told us stress and high blood pressure was the cause from salt; in some cases this is still believed today. High salt diets have no or little effect on blood pressure or heart disease. Salt is not the danger, sugars and fructose is, although “don’t” use processed table salt. Fructose is the sugar found in everything from corn syrup, drinks and fruit juices, and most processed foods.

Obesity ages the liver. What that means is if you are obese your liver will age faster than the rest of your body. If overweight or obesity is an issue you may want to focus to change to a more liver-productive food. Change to fermented foods, many herbs, cinnamon, turmeric, fennel, cayenne, pepper, coriander, ginger, cumin etc.

This is where most people are having a problem. Uncontrollable cravings for food are difficult to overcome. The digestive organs and stomach are already grown in size because of that above normal food intake which sends a message to the brain for more food. At this moment that craving for food is more powerful than your will power to say no.

What is the answer, how to get more will power? One way of doing this is by reducing the cravings. As soon as the cravings are gone you are in control of this situation. This is possible by taking a natural supplement or stimuli to suppress the craving for food; it does work.

3 Tips on Preventing Childhood Obesity

What would you say is the biggest problem facing our children today? It is heartbreaking to know that childhood obesity is the most common nutritional disorder as well as a growing global epidemic in developed countries. It is also considered to be the underlying factor causing a variety of chronic illnesses in the Western World.

In the United States, childhood obesity is growing at a dangerous pace; one out of three kids is considered overweight or obese. Recognizing this problem and attempting to tackle it should be a priority as health impact of obesity is staggering, and can cause a wide spectrum of illnesses including but not limited to depression, low self esteem, diabetes, cardiovascular problems, high cholesterol, hypertension, sleep apnea etc…

Childhood obesity becomes important because its likelihood to persist in adulthood is very high and these children become victims of disorders linked to obesity as they grow older. Interactions between genetic, biological, psychological, sociocultural and environmental factors are typically blamed for childhood obesity yet early interventions or preventative educational methods are rarely discussed.

As a family wellness chiropractor specialized to work with children and pregnant women, I believe that prevention and education is an essential part of avoiding such disorder in your children and it should start early on. Prior to conception, parents should be aware of risks of high birth weight, maternal diabetes, and obesity in the family. Educate yourself about healthy habits and active lifestyles; learn how to implement and practice that knowledge in your family and especially with your children can help lower the chances of having an overweight and unhealthy family. Here are some recommendations:

‘Best for Baby, Best for Mom’:
There are enormous amounts of research done on the advantages of breastfeeding, one of which is its ability to decrease the chances of obesity in children. Increasing the length of breastfeeding time plays an important role in lowering the risk of childhood and adolescence obesity. One of many benefits of breastfeeding is that babies have an internal and innate ability to control their intake and thus will stop when no longer hungry.

‘Motion is Life’:
Many of our kids lack enough physical activity to warrant the amount of caloric intake they are consuming. Replacing children’s physical activity with video games, computer, and television contributes to this shift of inactivity in today’s world. Encourage kids to be physically active every day. If you eat at home together with your kids and watch TV a few times a week encourage your family and the children to reduce TV/computer time, and go for a walk or bike ride instead and have more home cooked meals available.

‘You Are What You Eat’:
Start good habits early. Offer your children a wide variety of healthy foods, to shape up their food preferences as well as educating them on what is healthy and natural. Let them be involved with healthy food choices while packing your lunch. Unfortunately the days of family meals together, as well as healthy portions of vegetables and fruits are gone, and replaced with fast food, high caloric junk, high sugar, and lots of eating out.

Your parenting style is linked directly to your child’s mind and body health. Main goal as parents or family practitioners should be to encourage healthy behaviors for the entire family, give your kids healthy options with good life style habits, natural food, and activities to promote potential development of obesity and its associated risks in your family.