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Active Living
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Live Actively
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Prehistoric Workout
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Childbirth
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Advice from the Maternity Clinic
Advice from the Maternity Clinic (Part 2)
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Smoking and Pregnancy
Support During Labour
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Ultrasound for Fun & Photos
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Not Just Baby Fat
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Chronic Pain
Full Listing with story descriptions
Introduction
Managing Your Pain
Movement Matters
Moving Forward
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Pacing
Pain Medications
Prevention
Returning to Work
Understanding and Goal Setting
When Pain Doesn't End
Dental Health
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Antibiotics and Dental Surgery
Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
Baby Teeth
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A Healthy Mouth
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Root Canal
Seniors Oral Care
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The Smile You Want
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Smiling through the Senior Years
Teeth for Life
Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD)
Tobacco Risks to Oral Health
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Travel Dentistry
Water Fluoridation
Wisdom Teeth
Your Healthy Smile
DIABETES
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10,000 Steps
A1C Test
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Alchohol and Diabetes
A Diabetes Success Story
ABCs of Diabetes Management
Alternate Site Testing
Artery Health
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Benefits of Insulin
Benefits of Breakfast
Blood Glucose Medications
Blood Glucose Myths
Blood Glucose Testing
Blood Glucose Testing Tips
Blood Sugar Lows
Blood Glucose Monitors
C-Peptide Testing
Canada Food Guide Revisited
Carbohydrate Counting
Catastrophic Drug Plan
CDA Guidelines for Diabetes
Celiac Disease and Diabetes
Celebrating Health
Childhood Diagnosis of Diabetes
Children and Type 2 Diabetes
Cholesterol-lowering Medications
Colds and Diabetes
Constipation
Continuous Blood Glucose Monitoring
Cutting Edge
Dangers of Uncontrolled High Blood Pressure
Debunking Diabetes Myths
Driving and Diabetes
Diabetes and Menopause
Diabetes and OTC Medications
Diabetes Care Team
Diabetes and Celiac
Diabetes and Depression
Diabetes Diet
Diabetes Distress
Diabetes Eating on a Shoestring Budget
Diabetes Etiquette
Diabetes and Oral Health
Diabetes and Thyroid Disease
Diabetes and Your Mouth
Diabetes and Your Eyes
Diabetes in Cats
Diabetes in Dogs
Diabetes Management ABCs
Diabetes Meter Technicians
Diabetes Myths
Diabetic Ketoacidosis
Diabetic Retinopathy
Diet Tips for South Asians
Dining Out
Drinking and Diabetes
The Discovery of Insulin
Eating Disorders
Easing the Strain of Stress
Eating to Protect Your Kidneys
Eating Well During Shift Work
Eggs in a Diabetic Diet
Emotional Eating
Emotions of Diabetes Diagnosis
Erectile Dysfunction
Exercise Excuses
Why Fad Diets Fail
Fats
Fibre
Fill Your Day with Energy
Financial Support for Diabetes
Food Temptation
Foot Care
Footwear and Foot Health
Fruits and Veggies
Gastroparesis
Gestational Diabetes
Get Active
Get Physical
Gift Ideas
Glucose Meters
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The Glycemic Index
Going Green in the Kitchen
Grocery Shopping Tips
Guidelines for Diabetes Management
Holiday Party Survival Guide
Health Information on the 'Net
Healthy Happy Holidays
Healthy Beverage Choices
Health Benefits of Soy
Healthy Restaurant Meals
High Blood Pressure and Diabetes
High Blood Pressure
HbA1c Test
Healthy Eating for Active People
High Blood Lipids
Home from the Hospital
Home Alone and Sick
Hypoglycemic Unawareness
Impaired Glucose Tolerance
Immunization & Diabetes
Incretins-a Hormone Treatment
Injecting Insulin
Insulin Discovery-The Story
Insulin
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Insulin - the Key to Energy Management
Insulin Pumps
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Insulin Pump Therapy
Immunization and Diabetes
Internet Health Sites
Islet Cell Transplantation
Insurance
Ketones
Kidney Disease - Reducing the Risk
Living with Diagnosis of Diabetes
Living Powerfully with Diabetes
Low Blood Glucose
Managing Diabetes
Managing Blood Glucose
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Nutrition Food Labels
Meal Planning
Your Medication Expert
Medication Research Studies
Metabolic Syndrome
Microalbuminuria
New Diabetes Technologies
Natural Medicines and Diabetes
No Need for Insulin?
Not Snoozing
Over-the-Counter Medications
Oral Health and Diabetes
Osteoporosis and Diabetes
Diabetes and OTC Medications
Pedicure Precautions
Peripheral Arterial Disease
Pet Diabetes
Planning for Pregnancy
Prebiotics and Probiotics
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Putting off Insulin
Reducing Stress of Surgery
Safe and Successful Travel
Schizophrenia and Diabetes
Sensible Snacking
Setting Health Goals
Setting Goals for Physical Activity
Sharps Disposal
Shorter Insulin Needles
Sleep - a Missing Link
Smart Snacking
Smart Summer Nutrition
Snack Bars
Snacking with Diabetes
Sodium
Social Media & Diabetes
Solving the Insurance Puzzle
Stress and Diabetes
Success in School
Supplements
Supporting Spouse with Diabetes
Sweeteners
Sugar, Carbs and Blood Glucose Control
Think Positive with Diabetes
Tiny Bites Equal Big Calories
Travelling with Diabetes
Tips for a Better You
Tobacco Use and Diabetes
Top 10 Reasons to Exercise
Treating Low Blood Glucose
Treating Hypoglycemia - Role of Glucagon
Tune up Your Diet
Type 1.5 Diabetes
Type 2 Diabetes
Understanding Diabetes
Understanding Diabetes Medications
Understanding Ketones
Used Sharps
Urinary Incontinence
Vacationing with Diabetes
Vegetarian Eating for Diabetes
Vitamin D
Walking
Wise Choices About Natural Medicines
Wonderful Water
Natural Medicines & Diabetes
World Diabetes Day
Your Medicine Cupboard
Zimbabwe Hand Jive
Family Medicine
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ADHD in Children
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Antibiotic Use
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Aspirin Every Day?
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Back Pain Myths
Back Pain - Lower
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Doctor Visit
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Canada's New Blood System
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5 Tips to Manage Weight
10 Ways to Cut Down on Fat
Battle the Bulge
Boost Your Bone Strength
Body Image
Breakfast is Important
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Building Your Bones
Celiac Disease
Challenging the Milk Myth
Diet Reality Check
Drink Up!
Eating Smarter & Cheaper
Energy Drinks
Food Allergies
Food for Active Kids
Fast Food
Food Labels
Giving Up Gluten
Healthy Diet, Healthy Smile
Healthy Eating for Boomers and Zoomers
Healthy Eating for Seniors
Healthy Eating on Business Travel
Healthy Ethnic Meals
Fad Diets
Fruits & Veggies - 5-10 a Day
Fats
Fat Phobias
Fats & Cholesterol
Feeding Your Kids
Fibre
Food Chemistry 101
Food and Mood
Getting Kids to MOVE
Healthy Eating for Teens
Healthy Habits
Herbal Medicine and Nutrition
New Ingredients for Your Shopping Cart
Iron
Kid's Food
Liquid Candy
Meal Planning with Planned Overs
Mercury Levels in Fish
Night Snacking
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Nutrition on the Net
Nutrition Myths Busted
Nutrition Questions Top 5
Nutrition for Menopause
Essential Omega-3
Preventing Cancer Through Nutrition
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Power of Fruits & Veggies
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Changing Role of the Pharmacist
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Antibiotic Resistance
Backpack Pain
Bacteria Fight Back
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Caffeine
Cell Phones and Driving
Childhood Obesity
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Distracted Driving
Farm Safety for City Kids
Foodborne Illness
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The Flu and You
Heading Home for a Visit
Health Tips for Snowbirds
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H1N1 Virus - Plan Ahead
Household Mould
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Live Actively!
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Keys to Preventing Cancer
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Live Actively!
Low Birth Weight
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Preventing Burns and Scalds
Preventing Cancer through Nutrition
Quit Smoking 101
Respiratory Infections
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Should You Immunize?
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15 Great Reasons to Breastfeed
Anemia
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Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines Changes
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Family Health Online / Pharmacy at Safeway
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Family Health Magazine - CHILDHOOD

Not Just Baby Fat
Is extra weight affecting your child’s health?

Our society is fattening up. Childhood obesity is becoming a global problem and Canadian children are not immune. In Canada, the number of obese children tripled over the last 15 years. Health professionals worry about this dramatic increase. Obesity poses serious health threats, and can lead to chronic disease even in childhood. As a parent, you can help your child stay healthy and active, keeping the pounds off.

Health problems related to obesity can start in the early years for overweight children. Once, type 2 diabetes was a disease affecting older adults. Now, it is appearing 30 years earlier in obese children. Problems such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol are more likely in overweight kids compared to those of a healthy weight. Unchecked, such conditions can lead to heart disease. Obese children may even have a shorter lifespan than their parents.

A 2004 survey found one in three Canadian boys between the ages of seven and 13 were overweight. One in seven was obese. With girls of the same age, one in four was overweight while one in nine was obese. An overweight teen is more likely to become an overweight or obese adult. This is especially true if one or both parents carry additional weight.

Why do kids become obese?

Pop QuzObesity is a positive energy imbalance. If we do not use up all of the energy (food) we consume, we gain weight. Extra energy is stored in our bodies as fat. This positive energy balance may be very small each day, but over time results in weight gain.

Many do not realize that drinking a can of pop each day (an increasing trend among school age children) can mean 15 added pounds in a year! A cumulative positive balance of 3500 calories adds up to a pound of deposited fat. Since all foods contain energy, even eating what parents consider nutritious or healthy foods can affect weight.

In theory, to avoid gaining excess weight, we must either take in fewer calories or exercise more. However, studies prove that people who lose weight and keep it off do both. This means they cut back on food portions, especially high calorie, poor nutrient foods, and include exercise as part of a permanent healthy lifestyle habit change.

Trends Leading to Obesity

Cultural Trends

Activity Trends

Food Trends

  • Food is inexpensive
  • Foods are easily available through supermarkets, vending machines, take-out, drive-through, or home delivery
  • Nutrition advice is inconsistent
  • Parenting styles have changed
  • To get the slender female body our society values, girls may rely on unhealthy eating habits such as binging, which in some cases may lead to obesity
  • Mechanization and automation
    allow more leisure time
  • Leisure time is ‘lazy’ time
  • Urban and housing designs
    have fewer sidewalks and stairs,
    more parking
  • Building designs improve access
    by reducing walking
  • Less physical education is available in school
  • More time is spent on TV, computer and video games
  • Children ride in cars and buses rather than walk to school
  • Parents’ jobs or shift work make role modeling difficult
  • Outdoor recreational facilities are not used as often
  • Low cost physical activity programs are hard to find
  • More time is spent indoors than out, as parents worry about safety
  • Public transportation is inadequate
  • Labour saving devices such as remote controls reduce activity
  • More foods are available
  • Juice and soft drinks are consumed more often
  • More high calorie convenience foods are on hand
  • Food portions are larger and eaten later in the day
  • Snacks and beverages are also larger and less nutritious
  • More money (40 cents of each food dollar) is spent eating out
  • Supersizing fast foods means
    high calories
  • Many TV food and beverage ads appear on TV
  • We eat to relieve stress or because of boredom

How do I know whether my child is at a healthy weight?

All children need a healthy diet and an active lifestyle to grow and develop properly. All benefit from environments that make good choices possible and easy for them. Changing your environment is especially helpful if your child has a weight problem. Your doctor or another health care provider can help you find out whether your child’s weight is healthy.

BMiCalculating body mass index (BMI) can check whether your child is one of many in Canada classified as overweight. BMI is a simple weight-for-height equation.

The number is compared to a BMI-for-age chart, similar to a growth chart. These charts are available on-line (see resources) or you can ask your child’s doctor.

In addition, your doctor will also consider your child’s age, growth patterns, health concerns and family history. If necessary, you can then discuss how to make healthy changes.

Why are so many kids gaining extra weight?

Genetic factors do play a role in the control of body weight. However, the rapid increase in obesity rates in Canada happened too quickly to be explained by genetic changes in our population.

Children are a product of their environment, and trends (see sidebar) play a role in the rise of obesity. We need to think about why our environment may promote overeating and lack of physical activity.

How does environment affect my child’s weight?

Kids have some control over the food they eat and the amount of energy they spend in activity. However, factors in their environment are a major influence on their choices. Think carefully about your child’s environment. Does it encourage eating more and exercising less? When this happens, a positive energy balance results. Researchers have developed a name for such surroundings. An environment that fosters high energy intake and low energy use is called ‘obesogenic.’

Examine your child’s home, school and neighbourhood surroundings to identify what is influencing your child’s eating and exercise choices. Then, think about changes that support a healthier lifestyle. Remember, you are a role model for your kids. Lead your children to a healthier weight by setting a good example.

At home

What are your household rules about time in front of the TV and playing computer games?
Watching a lot of TV is not unusual. Close to one in three Canadian children in grades six to nine watch four or more hours of TV daily. Watching this amount is associated with a higher risk of obesity.

Television viewing competes with time spent being physically active. Being in front of the TV may mean eating more, either while watching or in response to ads. Food ads targeted at children are generally for items higher in fat and energy. In 2007, a panel of Canadian obesity experts published guidelines on managing and preventing obesity in adults and children. They recommended limiting daily TV viewing, computer and video games to one hour for preschoolers and no more than two for school-aged children.

What food choices are available to my kids?

The Canada Food Guide (www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/food-guide-aliment/index-eng.php) suggests that children eat five to ten servings of fruit and vegetables a day. Almost all children age nine to twelve know that fruit and vegetables are good for the heart. Yet, one in three Canadian children in grades six to ten do not eat a piece of fruit each day. Over half do not have a daily serving of either raw or cooked vegetables. On the other hand, close to a quarter of Canadian children the same age eat chips and chocolate bars daily. Around half drink soft drinks every day. As a parent, you decide what food is offered at home. Reviewing the Canada Food Guide can help you make healthier choices. Remember to allow your child some choice about what (or what not) to eat.

What are my attitudes toward physical activity?

Children’s participation in physical activity can:

  • enhance growth and development
  • build self-esteem and a positive self-image
  • provide opportunities for spending quality time with family
  • foster positive friendships.

Parents who agree with the ideas in the adjacent box tend to have children who use more energy. As well, children with active parents tend to be more active than those whose parents are not.

Enjoy family activities where everyone gets some exercise. Activities should be fun and recreational and do not have to be structured. Current guidelines recommend 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous daily physical activity for children of all ages and grade levels.

At school

How does my child get to school?

One of every two Canadian children aged five to 17 travels to school using inactive methods of transportation, including cars, buses and trains. If your child is among them, ask yourself why. Depending on the answer, you may be able to make changes.

Check out the Green Communities Canada program Active & Safe Routes to School (www.saferoutestoschool.ca). This national program encourages students and their parents to be more active in getting to and from school. It also helps school and community officials ensure that environments around schools support walking and cycling.

ENERGY IN / ENERGY OUT

1 to 2 cookies = 15 minutes of play
1 slice of bread = 30 minute of play
1 donut = 1 hour of play

Only a two per cent daily surplus in energy balance can lead to obesity!

What opportunities for activity are available at my child’s school?

Canadian guidelines recommend that students receive at least 150 minutes of physical activity class instruction per week, or three 50-minute classes per week. What about your child? Parents report that only half of five to 12 year olds receive physical education at or above this level. Remember, children who are more active and physically fit seem to learn better and have higher grades.

What food choices are available in my child’s school cafeteria and vending machines?

Are food choices offered to your child for the most part healthy ones? What are the costs of different foods? Studies suggest that reducing prices on low-fat snacks compared to other kinds makes teens more likely to buy them from vending machines.

In the neighborhood

Does my child play outside?

Studies have shown that spending time outdoors benefits a child’s physical activity. Most Canadian parents report that parks and outdoor spaces are locally available. However, one in three say that their children do not use them often. If this is true for your child, is it because you worry about safety? Thirty per cent of Canadian parents say this is true for them. By joining with other parents to identify safety issues, you may be able to find solutions.

The last word

If you are worried about your child’s weight, take action. Have your child properly assessed by an experienced health professional – a family doctor or pediatrician. Consider your environment, as changing lifestyle habits is key for most overweight and obese children. In rare cases, medications and even surgery to promote weight loss may be prescribed. Consult your health professional for further information.

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FAMILY HEALTH is written with the assistance of
Alberta College of Family Physicians
FAMILY HEALTH is written
with the assistance of
The College of Family Physicans of Canada
Alberta College of Family Physicians
While effort is made to reflect accepted medical knowledge and practice, articles in Family Health Online should not be relied upon for the treatment or management of any specified medical problem or concern and Family Health accepts no liability for reliance on the articles. For proper diagnosis and care, you should always consult your family physician promptly. © Copyright 2015, Family Health Magazine, a special publication of the Edmonton Journal, a division of Postmedia Network Inc., 10006 - 101 Street, Edmonton, AB T5J 2S6    [CH_FHa09]
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