As I contemplated on what area I should concentrate on for this blog, I thought about who we have the greatest opportunity to influence and thus impart change that can bring about a healthier tomorrow. This led me to our children.
This generation which some call Generation Z, Gen Tech, or Gen Wii are faced with different odds and statistics than the ones that we face. The things that I see that are common amongst most of this generation are they are extremely fond of electronic gadgets. They spend a great amount of time on computers, ipad, itouch, nintendo and so on. Baby Boomers and Generation X spent our childhood working, running, playing and engaging in physical activities. In so many ways we are worse off than we were years ago. This can be seen in the statistic related to childhood obesity.
Childhood obesity can lead to a variety of chronic health related problems including hypertension, diabetes and cardiovascular disease to name a few. The risk factors associated with developing cerebral vascular disease begin in childhood and adolescence. However the symptoms typically do not manifest themselves during childhood and adolescent years.4
Body Mass Index
According to the World Health Organization, Body Mass Index is defined as the index of weight-to-height that is used to determine if one is underweight, overweight or obese. It is calculated by taking ones body weight in kilograms and dividing it by their height in meters.4
The normal range for BMI is 18.5-24.99. There has been some discussion and research regarding whether different ethnic groups may be at risk for developing cardiovascular disease at BMIs that are lower than the over weight cut-off value of >/=25.00. Research ultimately provided evidence that this in fact is true and some ethnic groups may be at risk for type II diabetes and cardiovascular disease at values lower than 25.
In children, BMI changes drastically with age. In the US the standard for determining obesity in children is between 85th and 95th percentile. The cutoff scores for adult are more widely used in the United States. The International Obesity Task Force proposed that the adult BMI cutoffs be linked to the percentiles for children to provide child cutoff points according to an article published by Cole et al. for establishing guidelines for determining childhood obesity and overweight.5
The result of this study revealed that percentiles for overweight children correlates with cutoff scores for adult BMI. However the childhood obesity percentiles showed significant variations when compared to adult BMI cutoff scores. This may explain why there are varying BMI cutoffs for determining childhood obesity. There is substantial evidence that links BMI of 25 and 30 kg/m2 to morbidity in adults as well as childhood percentile scores that correspond to adult cutoff scores
In 2006, the Director of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute appointed an Expert Panel to develop cardiovascular (CV) health guidelines for pediatric care providers based on a formal evidence review of the science, with an integrated format addressing all the major CV risk factors. Based on the literature review and collaboration of the expert panel, these are the recommendations for physical activity
|GRADE A||GRADE B||GRADE C|
|Moderate-to-vigorous activities are associated with decreased BP, lower total cholesterol, decreased BMI, improved fitness||Strong, but limited evidence that physical activities improve clinical measures of arteriosclerosis||Reasonable evidence that Patterns associated physical activities are carried forward from childhood to adult life|
|Strong evidence that physical activity should be promoted in schools||Physical activities, dietary Choices and smoking habits clusters together|
|No evidence of harm associated with increased physical activities in normal children|
Based on the evidence provided we are more likely to have healthier children and ultimately adults if physical activities is incorporated into our lifestyles on a regular basis. Share your thoughts and questions.
- Cole TJ, Belizzi MC, Flegal K, et al., Establishing a Standard Definition Child Weight and Obesity Worldwide: International Survey. BMJ 2000;320-1240
- Daniels S, Benuk Irwin, Christakis D, et al. Expert Panel on Cardiovascular Health and Risk Reduction for Children and Adults: Summary Report.