Providers Weigh In: It’s Not Worth the Weight

Friday, May 27, 2016

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity rates have doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years. Today, one in three children and adolescents are overweight or obese. The numbers are even higher in African-American and Hispanic communities, where nearly 40% of the children are overweight or obese.

Obesity is the state of having excess body fat, which is the result of a person consuming more calories than they are burning. Some factors contributing to the increasing obesity include:

  • Increased technological innovations, such as automobiles and elevators that largely remove regular activity from everyday life.
  • Reduced funding for schools that cut down after-school sports programs and physical education classes, which would encourage physical activity.
  • Parents lacking the time and energy to cook filling meals, causing their kids to snack more throughout the day. Many children eat three snacks daily, which adds an extra 200 calories to their diet.

“Planning your meals for at least two days a week can help reduce calories, decrease snacking, and promote portion control,” advises Dr. MyKela Loury, former medical director of Mile Square Health Center’s Cicero site.

Mile Square Health Center’s “Healthier Choices — Healthier Families” (HCHF) program aims to increase participants’ knowledge and understanding of healthy eating and to promote the behavior changes that favor physical activity over sedentary lifestyles. As a merger of three evidence-based programs — Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity and Nutrition (We Can!), Cooking Matters, and SPARK — HCHF helps to promote healthy lifestyle habits that lower the risk of becoming obese and developing related diseases including.

“Healthy snacks like sliced apples, grapes, or nuts can help prevent sudden unhealthy cravings and overeating,” says Dr. Loury.

By taking the proper steps to eat better and exercise more, you can avoid a variety of health complications that can arise due to obesity, including:

  • Cardiovascular diseases, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Respiratory issues, such as sleep apnea and asthma
  • Stroke
  • Several types of cancer
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Hodgkin’s lymphoma

“Exercise can be as simple as parking further away when you’re at the store, or taking the stairs instead of an elevator,” says Dr. Loury. “Small choices like these are investments in your good health that pay off for a life time.”

If you would like to learn more about creating healthy meal and exercise plans for yourself or your family, visit Family Medicine at UI Health.