Fitness Nutrition

Our Supersized Kids

Is THIN going extinct? Nearly a third of our children are overweight or obese. And the numbers continue to rise. Childhood Obesity is a serious epidemic. We’re at risk of raising “supersized” kids who may live sicker and die younger than the generation before them. Because at younger and younger ages we’re starting to see children with significant medical complications related to being obese. Type-2 Diabetes, hypertension, elevated cholesterol. These are illnesses that we had not seen under the age of 20 before. With so many of us being overweight these days, sometimes being fat looks, well, “normal, “but it is not, and it is dangerous. An overweight child usually grows up to be an obese adult.

We’re in the midst of an epidemic of obesity in this country, between fast foods, greasy foods, and sugary drinks. If we don’t change what we do we will be a society of obese people, and I don’t thing anybody wants that. It’s very scary and it’s very real. That’s why we need to do something about it now. ♪ ♪ Is it “baby fat” or what? How do you know if your child is a healthy weight? This is the Cordero Family. Ten year old Elijah has always been a big boy. I always thought he was bigger, but I didn’t really think that there was a problem. We didn’t have much food growing up. I figured if they had a full belly they’d be happy you know. I guess I always thought he was big boned. I just thought, you know, he is eating every meal, it’s good. “Here’s his growth chart” A doctor’s visit told a different story. Elijah’s Body Mass Index, or BMI, showed his weight was growing faster than his height. A BMI is a simple height-to-weight ratio that provides a useful snapshot of whether a child is overweight for his or her age.

I was shocked. I guess I didn’t realize what we were doing to him. A BMI above the 85 percentile indicates a child is overweight. It means the child weighs more than 85% of their peers. Above 95% means the child is obese. The borderline diabetes is what scared me the most. And I just thought, you know, I don’t want him to have to give himself shots every day you can’t go back and fix it. The Cordero’s are not alone. Most parents don’t realize their child is overweight or how serious it is. Sometimes the “chubby” kid may not stand out in our overweight society. And it’s kind of hard to accept that more than half the people that we meet everyday are either overweight or obese. Many parents think their child will grow into the extra weight. Sometimes that’s true, but 75% of the time it is not. Two out of three overweight 10 year olds will grow up to be obese adults. In the past people would think, “Oh they’ll just grow out of it.” But what we’re seeing now is that kids don’t grow out of it.

They become obese adolescents, they become obese young adults, they become obese adults. What we need to realize is that it didn’t happen in one, two, three, or even five years. It started when the kids were 2, 3 years old. And that’s the urgency. ♪ ♪ Did you know our genes are not our Destiny? Nine year old Anna Ota loves Guinea Pigs and doing crafts with her Mom. But life hasn’t always been so happy. Two years ago Anna was very upset about her weight. She would come home and cry because kids would have called her fat. This little girl told Anna that she was too heavy to sit on Santa’s lap. A visit to the doctor confirmed her fears. Anna was overweight and a borderline diabetic. Her dad has diabetes,her grandpa has diabetes, and my mom has diabetes. I was really worried, because if she was that big at that age, how much bigger is she going to get? How many more health problems is she going to have? Anna was lucky because they caught her weight problem early, while she was still growing.

Prevention is key, because if we can catch these children when they are in the category of being overweight, catch them early and really enforce that the principles of healthy eating and exercise, food portions, then most of these children still have lots of time to grow. The goal is to slow down the weight gain and let the height catch up as the child grows.

While Anna is younger and still growing, nature is working right along with her. It’s much more difficult after puberty. It’s critical that we address these issues at as young an age as possible and we are working with the bodies physiology. Many obese adolescents were obese children. If you go back and look at their growth charts, you can see that they were already above the 96 percentile when they were 2 or 3. They’ve already had a decade of obesity. ♪ Yesenia Torres is a single mother of five. She knows that her Latino heritage puts her family at greater risk for obesity and its associated problems. A lot of people from our culture is overweight. We eat too much, and we eat big portions of food. An expression of love is feeding the kids whenever they ask for food. Its not loving them.

I realize that, that’s not loving them, which I used to do that. With David especially. Nowhere is the Childhood Obesity crisis more pronounced than in low-income communities of color. Across the country, more than 35 percent of African American children and nearly 40 percent of Latino children are obese or overweight, compared with about 29 percent of white children. And one in every two African American and Latina girls are at risk of developing diabetes during their lifetimes-a far higher percentage than white girls. ♪ Yesenia’s oldest daughter, Nathaly, is one of those statistics. She was diagnosed with diabetes at age 15. I felt like there was something wrong with my body, I already knew at 12 or 13 because of all the headaches and how i felt. Because when my blood sugar goes down, my legs get shakey, I can’t pick up anything and it gets really hot, it’s really bad. ♪ When Yesenia’s ten-year-old son David, began gaining excess weight, she got scared.

My son, David, was overweight, and he was close to the obese line. She did a cholesterol test, it was high; his blood sugar, he was on the borderline for diabetes, and that’s why it concerned me more. I already have a daughter with diabetes, so I didn’t want David to get to that point. It’s very hard to accept the fact that our children are overweight. Because where do the children get their food from. They are getting it from us. Where are they learning their habits. They’re learning it from us. So it’s very emotional to think, Gosh, my habits and my lifestyle has caused my child to have health issues and that’s hard to accept. I felt really bad. I didn’t know what I was doing wrong. I wanted to learn What else can I do to be better? To feed David better. So he wasn’t overweight. The good news is things can change.

New innovative programs are showing promise in fighting Childhood Obesity. Group Health’s Countdown to Healthy Living pilot program is one example. The program works with the entire family to make healthy changes. We work with them and help them identify their barriers to changing their lifestyles and encouraging more physical activity in their home, changing some of their dietary nutrition habits in the home, and doing it together as a family. Kids of these ages they are not in charge. They don’t buy the food, don’t control the screen time. They’re not in charge. So if you don’t involve the whole family, then the likelihood of long term success is limited. Well, you can’t just have one person do it. You all have to jump on board. You all have to be willing to make the changes. And if he sees us making the changes, he will. Making healthy changes as a family makes all the difference. We used to serve ourselves the large plate, now we serve the small plate. Even my mother. We don’t call it loosing weight.

We don’t call it dieting.It’s a change in eating style. It’s making healthier choices. Instead of that candy bar, how about an apple or orange. I feel the success rate for children depends on the parents. So, if parents are onboard for making changes, I find that the children are very successful. This is 12 year old Caleb Helm. He loves playing sports, scouting and playing music. Today Caleb looks and feels great, but it wasn’t always that way. About eight he started to have a little poochy belly on him. I figured oh, he’s probably just going to have a growth spurt really soon. Caleb did not grow out of it. By age 10, kids at school were teasing him and calling him fat. Caleb was a 10 year old kid with the weight of a 13 year old kid. He was kind of off the charts. Caleb’s mom was also an overweight child. She knows first-hand what it can do to your self-esteem. I really felt isolated. Felt like I couldn’t do something because I was conscious about my body.

The psychosocial and emotional factors associated with a child being overweight are just as significant as the medical complications actually. Most obese children do have low self-esteem, they have problems with being bullied at school, they’re being teased, which causes some of them to be introverts; it can be very devastating to them as individuals. Everyday he asks, does it look like I’m loosing weight. Everyday he asks. So I know he cares about it. They have no peer support because the may not have alot of friends, and so what makes them feel good is to eat food. So it’s kind of vicious circle. ♪ Small changes can make a BIG difference in your health. We used to eat out all the time. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, Oh hey, let’s go get ice cream, you know. Got rid of the pop, that was the first. We’d go through a case of pop a day easy. Eating out, the McDonald’s every morning. Three sausage McMuffins on his way to school.

(Five. Five. He’d eat five easy) I used to just be happy that they ate breakfast. I wouldn’t care what they ate for breakfast,as long as it was breakfast. So, a plate of nachos was perfectly acceptable as long as he was eating. Come home after school and grab some chips and a pop. Sit down and watch TV on the couch. So I brought five pounds of fat, and I want everybody to touch it, to look at it. I’m going to pass it around the table. Those days are long gone. The Countdown for Healthy Living classes were a real eye opener. that’s when I got more scared about what we were eating. I saw the junk! I went home that night, after the first group meeting, and I cleared my whole kitchen out. by the time we were done, we had two garbage bag fulls. So this one is a hamburger. It’s 410 calories. I find most of it is people are just not educated in how to be healthy. They haven’t had the information on how to provide a healthy lifestyle for themselves or for families.

Keeping a food journal is a great way to get started. Once you started seeing on paper, written down what you’re doing it really started kicking in. They would have us measure out all the food. All the food intake that he was eating down to calories, portions and ounces. On the peanut butter you put on the sandwich and the slice of bread. Once you start writing it all down, it’s just amazing how much you’re putting in your mouth. It taught us a lot lot we didn’t even know we were doing. Not just to him, to ourselves, you know.

♪ Food gives our body the energy it needs to do the activities we love. To maintain a healthy weight, we need to balance the amount of energy or calories we take in in the form of food with energy we use by being active. Unfortunately, most of us suffer from portion distortion. We’re just eating way too much. Big portions. Especially once we start seeing how big the portions really are supposed to be. I was times-ing them by six easy. Big big portions. Food portion sizes have really grown over the last 20 years. And, not just in restaurants, at home too. Many times our plate arrives with enough food on it for two or even three people.

Hamburgers have expanded by 23 percent; a plate of Mexican food is 27 percent bigger; Soft drinks have increased in size by 52 percent; Snacks are 60 percent larger. So it’s not surprising that our kids are getting larger too. Studies show, if it is there, we eat it, whether we are full or not. So what is a normal portion size anyway? A portion size for meat, chicken or fish is roughly the size of a deck of cards. For potatoes, rice or pasta it’s roughly the size of the palm of your hand, or one cup. Vegetables, however are pretty much all you can eat. But, it’s not only that we eat too much, It is what we’re eating.

They had all these different displays. Just the fat content in the meat, sugar in sodas. how much oil was in each snack. And you can see it and feel it. You could touch it. We wanted to wring our bodies out. Today, 23% of our grocery dollars goes toward processed packaged foods. That has more than doubled in the last 20 years. It’s fast, easy and inexpensive. But it comes at a price. Most processed packaged foods are full of added sugars, fats, and salt. It was so scary, really scary it was like Oh My God, I’m feeding my kids that! But equally troubling is what has been removed from our food. Processed foods are often stripped of nutrients and fiber designed by nature to protect your body and keep you healthy. 13. Okay there was 13 teaspoons in this bottle. What kids are drinking is also part of the problem. Most Kids consume over 100 pounds of sugar a year. Much of it in sugary drinks and soda.

An enormous amount of sugar. They showed it granulated so you actually could see how much sugar you’re putting in your body. ♪ Our bodies need to move. Run, jump, bend, and play. At least 60 minutes every day. When we were kids we used to play, kick the can, that sort of thing. We learned that from other people in our neighborhood. These days there is a lot of electronic gadgetry kids don’t play as much as they used to. Mounting research shows that the amount of time a child spends watching TV and using other media is linked to their body weight. Too much “screen time” translates into less exercise time and bigger waistlines.

Studies show that Kids with TVs in their bedrooms are twice as likely to be obese. Plus, The American Academy of Pediatrics’ recently reported that our children,” watch too much TV, don’t get enough exercise, see too many junk food ads and don’t get enough sleep.” It’s no wonder our kids our overweight. ♪ Moving more as a family is key. But it’s not necessarily about getting a health club membership or joining a sports team. We focused on physical activity as a family. So whether that meant walking in the park, doing jazzercise in your home. What we wanted was the family, as a unit, to just move more. We discovered that it was important to have the parents involved. We didn’t for the first session. The parents didn’t do the physical activity with us. And we discovered if we re-taught them how to play, allowed them to be silly with their kids that seemed to break down a lot of barriers and get them more active in the time they weren’t here with us.

Role modeling is key. As a parent you have to be willing to participate and model the behavior that you want your child to pick up. ♪ Snacks are important because we don’t want to be so hungry at dinnertime that we overeat. Caleb got to be around other kids that were experiencing the same type of things that he was experiencing. He got to talk about what it was like to feel excluded, teased, and know that he’s not the only one. Some of these kids have changed schools many times because of bullying.

Some of them have never felt like they fit in or that others paid much attention to them in a positive way so this is an environment where they did feel like they fit in, they got to do everything that everyone else was doing. ♪ At 15, Michelle James was overweight. Everything revolved around food, whether it was, because I was sad or because I was happy, you know. It was all about the food. Now, at 32, Michelle can still remember the pain of growing up overweight. I didn’t really dwell on the fact that I was overweight because it was too hard. I would never joke about my weight. I was not one of those people that would just make light of it because it really did bug me. Michelle was the only heavy one in her family. I wasn’t the pretty one. I wasn’t the skinny one. That was my sister. Looking back, Michelle can pinpoint a string of tragic events that coincide with her ballooning weight. I have had a lot of loss. I love people with my whole heart. But then when they’re gone, it’s like my whole heart hurts. To ease the pain, Michelle began to over eat.

I didn’t know what to do, with the feelings of loss and of grief and the hurt and pain. I didn’t really have anyone to talk to, so you just eat. And it just kind of makes everything go away for a period of time. There are some kids who’ve had a normal weight, or maybe slightly higher weight their whole lives. And then something happens.

And it can be a significant life event. It could be a car accident involving a family member or it could be a loss in the family, a divorce. Some major life event. For some kids it can happen very quickly. You can see 8-10 pounds in a month. Being an overweight teenager affected Michelle’s self-confidence. It was hard to make friends and easy to fall in with the wrong crowd.

She made some poor choices. Especially when it came to dating boys. I ended up pregnant at 17, my senior year of high school. I just think a lot of it had to do with my weight, because I was overweight and struggled with self-confidence. I chose to date someone who, you know, wasn’t really concerned about me. Two weeks after Michelle graduated from high school, she made the tough decision to give her baby up for adoption. It was one more loss to deal with. That was a major loss at 18. And what do you do with that as an 18 year old. You just eat. I ate. ♪ Elmo’s off to school… Three years ago, Michelle had had enough I looked in the mirror, and I had become a person I didn’t recognize. And I thought this is not the person I want to be, and it started with working through my feelings and realizing how I had been eating myself into a hole. Michelle is married now with a beautiful daughter and another child on the way.

With the help of a church group, a nutrition plan and lots of exercise Michelle has lost over 80 pounds over the last 3 years. She is dedicated to living a healthy lifestyle and being fit. I don’t feel like my life is controlled by my next meal. There’s a freedom in being able to say No to certain foods. And there’s a freedom that comes in being able to go out and run a mile, that’s freeing to feel like your body works the way it was created to work. It’s freedom. After two years, David, Anna, Caleb and Elijah are also seeing positive results. I see a big result on David. He lost about 15 pounds. He is a different kid. He didn’t used to fit in a lot of clothes. Now, he’s so excited it’s loose on him. And then I noticed she’s loosing weight and her doctor did too. And I’m like it’s working you know, this is great.

So, it’s really improved her self-esteem. It’s not going to happen over night. But if you start making the changes, and he sees you making the changes then he will eventually make the changes . These kids are the lucky ones. Their parents are dedicated to role modeling a healthy life style. That’s where it starts. I see it, I hear it, I taste it, I do it, I live it. And if we can start with moms and, and dads when the kids are young, to role model those behaviors, that’s where we start. And I asked him, how you feel. I feel good mom. Look I’m so Skinny! I’m getting a six-pack. He started cross country, and then he did Bloomsday training, and then he wanted to play basketball, and I think that he doesn’t really view himself as a fat kid anymore. ♪ ♪ .