11/20/2009 | FREDRICK REICHLE, MD
Approximately one in five young people between the ages of six and 17 are overweight. There is an epidemic of childhood obesity in the United States and around the world. Millions of these young people face a higher risk much earlier in life of developing diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, stroke and some types of cancer.
The two main contributing factors are a plentiful supply of food high in calories, fat and sugar and a lack of physical activity.
Part of the solution could involve re-introducing mandatory physical activities in public schools. Another important aspect is parents taking a corrective role in their child’s physical activity and dietary habits.
In addition to exposure to physical activity in schools and the home, other organizations such as scout and church groups are increasingly involved in encouraging physical activities to supplement school physical fitness programs.
One example of an organized young people’s winter physical activity event is the snow sports program at a ski area high in the Allegheny Mountains of West Virginia, where more than 500 young people belonging to schools, churches and scouts ski throughout a weekend, many for the first time.
Contrary to most winter sports programs, the Timberline Four Seasons Resort snow sports program is not financially prohibitive to most young people, due primarily to the resort’s investment in onsite inexpensive lodging facilities. Timberline offers these groups a complete weekend of supervised physical activity at a low cost which includes two full days of skiing, rental equipment, two nights lodging, five meals and a ski lesson.
Teachers, parents and scout leaders supervise and participate in the weekend or holiday program with the young people. The adults serve as good role models by engaging in the activities
with the children.The ages of the young people range from cub scouts to adolescents. Inquiries, information or reservations regarding the Timberline program are available at [email protected], visit www.timberlineresort. com or call 800-SNOWING.
This program introduces students to a new dimension in hysical activity with skills that can last a lifetime. Because it is a winter sport, it can be an effective supplement to outdoorsports, which in most areas are only available in other seasons.
Obesity in childhoodisknowntobe associated with high cholesterol levels and low levels of high density lipoprotein. Childhood obesity may becaused by hormonal or genetic causes and medical attention maybe required to determine the individual cause. However, proper physical activity is universally helpful.
Obese children ages four to10 have impaired glucose tolerance in25 percent and in 21percent of those aged 11to18. Impaired glucose tolerance is considered a precursor to diabetes. These numbers are alarming because diabetes can increase the risk of kidney problems, blindness and circulation problems, in addition to heart disease and stroke.
Children should accumulate 60 minutes o fmoderate to vigorous physical activity each day. Screen and television time should be limited to less than two hours per day.