Youth at Risk: One in Three Kids Not Physically Fit

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January 14, 2006 | 5,081 views

More than a third of U.S. adolescents are physically unfit. This means they are at greater risk of getting heart disease as they age.

34 Percent

More than 3,000 adolescents were asked to walk or run on a treadmill, after which their heart and blood pressure was measured. About 34 percent were at the lowest possible fitness level. This could mean that as many as 7.5 million adolescents between ages 12 and 19 nationwide are unfit.

The unfit teens were also more than twice as likely to be overweight, and two to three times as likely to have high cholesterol.

Overweight or at Risk

Health experts have issued warnings for years about the diet and exercise habits of children. Roughly 31 percent of U.S. children are currently overweight or at risk of becoming so.

I am not surprised to hear the disturbing results of this study. I'm very concerned about the fact that inactivity leads to childhood obesity -- an extremely dangerous epidemic in the United States.

The epidemic of obesity in children is advancing much more quickly than the CDC and others predicted. In the last two decades alone, the prevalence of overweight adolescents has nearly tripled, and now nearly one out of every three American children are seriously overweight or at risk of becoming overweight.

Moreover, overweight and obese children are not only faced with increased health problems:

  • Heart disease
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Gastrointestinal
  • Orthopedic problems
  • Type 2 diabetes, to name a few

-- but they are also likely to suffer from low self-esteem and depression as a result of their weight. In fact, being overweight or obese can take a huge emotional toll on a young child.

Like most problems in life, preventing childhood obesity is far easier than treating it, although much of the success of prevention depends on parental involvement, and communication is the key.

You will not only need to set appropriate guidelines and talk to your children about nutrition and why what they are doing is so important, you will need to take the time necessary to create nutritious meals and snacks for them to eat. Perhaps even more importantly, you will need to act as a good role model for them. After all, it is completely unfair to your children to ask them not to eat things they later see you eating.

Some ways to combat the problem of childhood obesity:

  • Exercise -- The obvious answer to unfit kids is exercise. Overweight and obese children need at least 30 minutes of exercise each day, but more is better.
  • Eliminate sweet drinks -- Drastically cut their sugar intake (and ultimately weight) by eliminating soda and fruit juices.
  • Cut down or cut out television -- Not only does TV viewing promote inactivity, it exposes kids to commercials promoting worthless foods.

[+]Sources and References [-]Sources and References