Fighting obesity can no longer be an individual’s responsibility.

As parents, we must adhere to the Family Diet; by introducing healthy choices at a young age and reducing fat and sugar from the meals and snacks, the entire family will benefit!

A 2011 report by The Journal of the American Medical Association indicated that over 26 percent of American adults were now obese, up from 25.5% in 2008. The percentage of obese women has held steady over the previous decade, however the obesity rate for men continued to increase between 1999 and 2008. Most disturbingly, the incidence of obesity in children aged six to 11 has now tripled during the same period and now stands at almost 20 percent.

Despite a decade-long campaign to educate people on healthy eating and advocate for healthy food choices in an effort to combat obesity there is no sign that this trend will reverse.

Part of the problem may be reversing a decades-old manta that more is better. Food and the ability to consume it in variety and excess has always been a sign of wealth.

In truth, there is very little variety between the recommended caloric intake of a school-age child and a healthy adult female. To maintain your current weight both should consume less than 2,000 calories a day!

The recommended daily intake for females is as follows: ages 4-9, 1,200 calories; 9-3, 1,600 calories, 14-19, 1,800 calories and 2,000 for non-pregnant women. For healthy males it is ages 4-9, 1,400 calories; 9-3, 1,800 calories, 14-19, 2,200 calories and 2,500 for men.

Safe to say in the fast food era of a 300 calorie Egg Mc Muffin, or 350 calorie ice cappuccino’s, none of us are actually adhering to the daily recommended diet for maintaining health and weight.

The obvious way to reduce obesity is to lose weight and then maintain a healthy weight.

obesityWe must do this through education, portion control, the return of the family dinner and the addition of exercise to our daily routines. 

The first step to fight obesity is to be informed so we can make good choices.

Experts say these five culprits are sneaking hidden calories into our diet: 

  • Soft drinks and juice:

The average U.S. household consumes more than 20 percent of its daily calories from sweetened beverages and eight percent of an adolescents’ daily caloric intake. The connection of soda and obesity has been obvious for years, but experts now believe that consuming juice is just as bad.

One reason is that most of the nutritious elements in the fruit are left behind during the juicing process, primarily the fiber content. The sugar concentration of fruit juices is essentially the same as sugary soft drinks. For example an 8oz glass of orange juice has 24g of sugar, apple juice is about the same at 26g, but since it has more fructose than glucose, it may have more potential health risks.

By contrast a 12oz can of cola, has 40g of sugar. One daily serving of a high quality juice, with no added corn syrup presents little danger, but when possible substitute fruits and serve water with meals instead.  

  • Fast and convenience foods:

The most popular take out, or fast-food chains promote menus that are higher in calories, fat, sugar and salt than a similar item prepared at home.  A typical fast food salad, with crispy chicken and dressing has 540 calories; 35g total fat; 8.5g saturated fat; 1,500 mg sodium.

The grilled counterpart has 370 calories but still over 1,100 mg. of sodium or almost half of the recommended sodium intake for a person over four. A grilled 3-oz burger from a national chain has 250 calories and 520 grams of sodium. Prepared at home, with a light whole wheat bun a 3.5 ounce burger has 264 calories but just over 100 grams of sodium.

  • Whole milk:

On the surface, the calorie difference between whole milk (150 calories/ 8g Fat), 2% milk (120 calories/ 4.5g fat), 1% milk (100 calories/ 2.5g Fat) and skim milk (80 calories/ 0g fat) seems minimal.

But if your child consumes the daily recommended three servings of milk per day, he or she would eliminate 150 daily. Those added calories translate into almost a pound per month.

  • Sedentary life styles:

The family diet must include exercise; outings to parks, playgrounds, walking trails and family gyms. With the advent of the suburban sprawl, our children no longer walk to school.

By adding 10,000 steps per day, or five miles of total activity, we can burn 500 calories. These steps can be accumulated by accompanying your child home from school by foot; parking in the last row of the grocery store and walking or an evening stroll of four laps around the local high school track (one mile).

  • Portion distortion:

The “clean plate club” generation no longer knows what a real portion is. Researchers say that Americans greatly underestimate by as much as 25 percent the number of calories they consume. For example, one slice of bread, one ounce of grain cereal (corn flakes or Cherrios) or ¾ of a cup of Kashi is a serving size.

A typical bagel may be equal to three or more servings of bread. Meanwhile, a serving of rice or pasta is ½ cup, while a portion of meat, fish, or poultry is the size of a deck of cards or the size of your palm. Current guidelines recommend just six ounces of lean meat, poultry or fish daily.

One teaspoon of butter, margarine or vegetable oil is a serving size and the daily recommended portion is two! However, new guidelines recommend four to five servings of vegetables per day, which is one cup of leafy vegetables or 1.2 cup of cut up or raw vegetables daily.

Our nation’s obesity crisis has been trending for decades now.

Obesity-related economic costs exceed $100 billion annually and accounts for six to 10 percent of care spending and the number is expected to grow.

Overall, obesity related (direct and indirect) economic costs exceed $100 billion annually, and the number is expected to grow.

To break the obesity trend in the next decade, we must immediately rethink our lifestyles.

Our future depends on it.

Jen Thames

Article Contributed by: Jen Thames, Brand Manager for the best source for residence hall linens and twinXL bedding on the web. 

More articles on how to avoid childhood obesity… 

Dr. Kathy Siefert