There will be a free public presentation called The Weight of the Nation, Children in Crisis at 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., March 7 at Mabee Auditorium at the University of Saint Mary. Doors will open at 4:30 p.m.
Denise Sullivan, MS, CFCS is County Extension Agent-Family and Consumer Sciences.
1. What will the presentation The Weight of the Nation, Children in Crisis focus on and what will be included in the event?
The program will include the one-hour HBO documentary, discussing the growing obesity problem and chronicle the lives of several families as they take steps to help their children achieve a healthy weight.
This will be followed by a panel discussion with health care professionals and community partners.
There will also be health screenings and educational resources for parents and caregivers. Nursing students from USM and KCKCC will be helping with the program.
2. What kinds of diseases are overweight children most at risk of developing?
Diabetes, high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol are some of the biggest concerns with overweight children.
There is also increased risk for asthma and sleep apnea, not to mention social and psychological problems often associated with obesity.
Overweight children are also at greater risk of becoming obese adults, with the same health risks associated with obesity.
3. Will today's obese children live fewer years and have a worse quality of life than their grandparents? And if so, what can parents do to change this pattern?
Because of the increase in life threatening diseases associated with obesity, this is the first generation in history that is at risk of having a shorter life expectancy than their parents, in spite of medical advances. When we compare our food and movement patterns of just 50 years ago, we see a big difference. We consume more convenience type foods, less made 'from scratch' foods and eat more meals away from home. Most people had only one car, thus planned their meals and grocery trips and also considered walking to some locations that we drive to today. We could all benefit from examining our choices, lifestyle habits, and our built environment.
4. Has the technology explosion, which inundates kids with electronic game and information devices, contributed to fatter kids? What's the best way a parent can ensure their children are getting enough exercise?
Screen-time is a contributing factor to childhood obesity because it takes away from time children spend in physical activities and often includes increased snacking. Excessive television also increases exposure to food advertisements, most of which are not healthy choices. Parents should try to limit children's media time to 2 hours per day and find ways to be physically active together.
5. How can parents and schools work together to promote healthy eating and lots of physical activity for children?
Page 2 of 2 - We are seeing a lot of changes occurring in the school lunch programs that is a direct response to the obesity concern, such as more vegetables and whole grains. More changes involving foods outside of the school lunch program, often referred to as 'competitive foods', are also on the horizon. It is important that families, schools, and communities communicate and work together to increase the acceptance of these changes. It is also very important for adults to model healthy choices. Together, we can create a healthier culture and achieve success.
— Rimsie McConiga