The Times West Virginian


February 28, 2014

Even small steps play part in critical mission to reduce childhood obesity

Just two years ago, more than one-third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese, meaning they had excess body weight based on their height.

It’s a troubling statistic, and one that health officials have worked diligently to reverse.

A report earlier this week suggests those efforts might be working.

On Wednesday, the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that childhood obesity in children ranging in age from 2 to 5 has fallen from 13.9 percent in 2003-04 to 8.4 percent in 2011-12.

While this particular age was the only group to see a significant decline, it’s causing people to take notice. Why? Because it raises hopes that these children will remain at healthy weights as they get older.

Consider the potential risks overweight and obese children face. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obese children are more likely to have risk factors for cardiovascular disease such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure. They’re also more likely to have pre-diabetes, a condition in which blood glucose levels indicate a high risk for development of diabetes, and they’re at greater risk for bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and social and psychological problems.

And those are only the short-term effects. Looking even further ahead, the CDC points out that children and adolescents who are obese are likely to be obese as adults and are more at risk for adult health problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer and osteoarthritis.

That’s why the report from the Journal of the American Medical Association is so encouraging.

And although the paper doesn’t say why childhood obesity is declining, it does point to six possible reasons:

• Nutrition assistance such as food stamps and WIC (Women, Infants and Children) may have led to decreases in childhood obesity among low-income Americans as federal standards have changed to promote healthier eating.

• New federal nutritional guidelines have trickled down to state and local programs, such as encouraging increased consumption of water, limiting serving sizes and limiting time in front of the television.

• As the value of breastfeeding has been increasingly understood, there’s been a substantial increase in babies drinking breastmilk.

• Pregnant women have increasingly understood the risks of smoking during pregnancy.

• Food companies have limited television advertisements targeting children.

• A number of national initiatives, such as first lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” program, have promoted healthy eating among children.

Any effort that helps children lead healthier lives is an effort worth pursuing. This week’s report shows that even small steps work, and we’re hopeful that continued efforts will lead to a decreased obesity rate in every age group.

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  • State must convince parents, schools about benefits of Common Core

    It’s always nice to have a little bit of background information before diving into something new.
    So we have to agree with West Virginia Board of Education president Gayle Manchin when she says the state should have done a better job of explaining Common Core standards when they were first introduced.
    Those standards, part of a national educational initiative that sets learning goals designed to prepare students in kindergarten through 12th grade for college and career, will be fully implemented in every West Virginia school district next month.

    July 30, 2014

  • Time is now for Tomblin to support King Coal Highway

    U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., is asking Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to add the King Coal Highway project to West Virginia’s six-year highway improvement plan. It is a logical request, and one that Tomblin should act promptly on.

    July 29, 2014

  • United effort to keep NASA in Fairmont is essential project

    The high-technology sector is obviously vital to the economy of North Central West Virginia.
    That’s why a strong, united effort to keep the NASA Independent Verification and Validation Program in Fairmont is absolutely essential.

    July 27, 2014

  • COLUMN: Calling all readers: Be heard

    I love to talk to readers.
    I love to hear concerns they have about stories we’ve written, things they think should be included in the newspaper and things they think shouldn’t be.

    July 27, 2014

  • Korean War veterans are deserving of a memorial

    NEEDED: A total of $10,000 for the Korean War Memorial this year.
    And a good man has been placed in charge of the funding. Charlie Reese, former president of the Marion County Chamber of Commerce, is now director of the Marion County Development Office. His task was to make a recommendation as to what steps are necessary to keep the project moving.

    July 25, 2014

  • Roll up your sleeves, give blood and you can save lives

    It takes up to 100 units of blood to save the life of someone who sustains life-threatening injuries in a vehicle accident.
    We’re hoping that the number of people who come to Fairmont Senior High School on Friday for and American Red Cross blood drive will exceed that amount.

    July 24, 2014

  • Vehicles and motorcycles must share the road safely

    The days are long. The weather is superb. There’s plenty of leisure time in these lazy days of summer.
    It’s the perfect time to take a long motorcycle ride.
    It’s also the perfect opportunity for us to take the time to remind not only riders but drivers of the need to share the road. And we feel compelled to mention it because just within the month of July, there have been two motorcycle-versus-car accidents within the City of Fairmont alone — one with severe injuries sustained by the motorcyclist and the other with less serious injury.

    July 23, 2014

  • Too many taking too few steps to protect selves from skin cancer

    July 22, 2014

  • Distracted driving: It isn’t worth fine or a life

    Today marks the day that police agencies from six states are joining forces to crack down on one thing — distracted driving.
    And they will focus on that traffic violation for a solid week, with the stepped-up effort to curb distracted driving wrapping up on Saturday, July 26.

    July 20, 2014

  • COLUMN: Are we people watchers or people judgers?

    Let me tell you about my little friend Robby. Well, actually, it’s more about his family and especially his mom. I didn’t get her name. I heard Robby’s name quite a bit, though, during a trip home from Birmingham, Alabama.
    I noticed the family in the Birmingham airport immediately. They were just the kind of family you’d notice.

    July 20, 2014

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