Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Early Intervention can help teens and preteens learn about healthy living

I read an article today that talked about how parents can more effectively talk to their teens about issues involving weight, dieting, diet, exercise and general health in these very delicate years.  I remember being a teenager and I remember that yes, weight was always an issue but more today than ever with social media as an intermediary and distribution channel.  Kids of today are sending one another pictures in all forms.  They post them on Facebook, Instagram, text messages etc., and they all "discuss" how one another "looks"...whether negative or positive....unfortunately, the negative seems to outweigh the positive.

WEIGHT is almost a dirty word.  And being OVERweight is considered a crime when you are a teenager.  So how do you, as a parent talk to your kids about how to improve their habits?  Not to look better for their peers, but to be HEALTHY and to reach adulthood with a positive outlook about themselves?

This is a very tricky question and one that has varied answers.  I am not an expert, but I have an opinion.  As a woman, who (now looking back) was not "overweight" but thought I was and struggled with feeling bigger than other girls.  I however, was an active teen.  I played softball, soccer and I went to summer camp in the Berkshires and did activities all day, every day even into my adult years as a teen and adult.  This is a common problem with many females.  We see ourselves very different than what is real.  My situation may be different, because I had a healthy outlook...I chose (with the help of my Mom) to keep playing sports and to avoid any unhealthy behavior that could become dangerous to my health.  Of course, this was in the early 90's and social media did not exist...so the pressure was not as immediate.

It is estimated, that today over 50% of teenagers (including boys) are participating in unhealthy behavior to decrease their body weight through various forms of elimination, starvation, smoking, drugs, diet pills, drinks etc.  Trust me, I am aware that these methods have been used for years but it seems that the age of the user is getting younger and younger.  A study by the University of Pittsburgh shows that children as young as 7 years of age have shown signs of dieting. 

Your children are never too young to learn about healthy behavior.  They are never too young to get involved in team sports (appropriately aged).  Teaching your kids how to make healthy decisions about food and drinks at an early age can help prevent a whole host of diseases including diabetes, heart disease, breathing problems and weight issues.  Kids uses their smart phones for any number of things...introduce them to managing their health online through programs like Healthper.  It's never too early to get them on board.

Friday, June 21, 2013

In the wake of the AMA changing obesity to a "disease" its time to start examining whether or not the connection between the diabetes epidemic and excess weight is the downfall of our healthy society.

How can we combat this trend that is spiraling out of control?  In a recent article posted by several New York city papers, the diabetes epidemic has hit a new high here in NYC.  We have seen over a 10% increase in the presence of diabetes related deaths since 1990, since is a double digit increase.  Based on the population, that accounts for 1 death every 90 minutes, or 16 deaths a day attributed to diabetes.  There are some interesting statistics that breakdown the numbers by race, by in my opinion that is unimportant at the moment.  What IS important is that we have to change the mindset of the average American.  This includes children, not just adults.  If you are old enough to know you want that bag of potato chips, you are old enough to know how that fatty treat can affect your body mass.

Here in NY, a campaign will be launched (via radio) that will encourage New Yorkers to exercise more, eat less fast foods and less sugary drinks.  How successful will this be?  This still remains to be seen.  A leading expert points to rising obesity and suggests that if these numbers continue to increase, so will the number of people with diabetes.

What can you do decrease your chances?  Let's start with the basics.  Cut out the sugar and excess carbs.  Increase your water intake.  Walk more.  Stop sitting still on the couch.  Eat less fried food.  Or stop eating fried foods altogether. Start tracking your activity.  Learn what behaviors are helping to change your outcomes.  Healthper.com can help you do this.  Learn more today.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

On Tuesday June 18th, 2013 the AMA determined that "obesity" is now considered a disease in the United States.  I have to wonder what this will mean for the future of health care in this country and the future of wellness?

First as foremost, I want to believe that this change has been made to help create behavior change and support the goals of companies like Healthper.  I want to believe that giving people greater access to health and wellness programs (with recommendations) from doctors and programs that will be supported by their insurance companies is a positive, however I am concerned that labeling obesity a disease, will allow those that are "afflicted" with an excuse to continue their poor behavior. 

How do you change the average American's mindset?  What can we do to increase their want vs. need to get healthy?  Encouragement? Incentives? Social Engagement? Accountability? Here at Healthper, we believe that creating an environment that incorporates all of these strategies, plus a sense of self accomplishment can begin to create that lasting change.

The lasting effects of this new label still remain to be seen.  We are not 24 hours out since this decision took place.  My hope is that this "disease" that has become an epidemic across the US for not only adults but children, will be taken more seriously now that it is seen as life threatening disease.