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BIG kids now, BIG problems later

Areebah Anwar, Mercy School Institute Modified: May 3, 2010 at 11:04 am •  Published: May 1, 2010
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Nearly 1 in 3 Oklahoma children is obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control, and the condition could cause lifelong problems.

Obesity increases the risk for problems like heart disease, diabetes, stroke, cancer and osteoarthritis, said Sandy Richardson of the University of Oklahoma.

“We used to think of these health problems as adult diseases, but no more,” Richardson said. “We are seeing problems in very young children around 5 years of age.”

Richardson also says children with obesity are more likely to experience psychological problems and social discrimination. This can be not having friends or being the last one picked on a team, she said. Most obese adults report having experienced discrimination at least once in their life.

“Obese children are often viewed as lazy or stupid, leading to disparaging remarks,” she said.

Physical activity is highly recommended for everyone, especially kids. Reducing the amount of sugary sodas per week, or even walking the dog for 15 minutes, are simple changes that are helpful.

“All Americans should aim to meet the goal of 150 or more minutes per week of physical activity,” said Patti Landers, a professor and practicing physician at the University of Oklahoma. “In order to lose weight, a person must choose healthy foods and control portion sizes.”

Meals should include protein, starches and non-starches, said Allen Knehans, a nutrition professor at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

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How to stay healthy

1. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables.
2. Eat lean meats.
3. Drink low fat milk.
4. Eat whole grains.
5. Drink more water and fewer sodas.
6. Exercise.

Source: University of Oklahoma professor Sandy Richardson

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