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Back to the basics

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The waistlines of adults are expanding, but what is concerning many are the waistlines of kids.

Children are certainly more active than adults, but kids are becoming obese stemming from an unhealthy lifestyle.

“This problem has become more obvious in the last couple of years. The activity of kids nowadays is not the same as children from a few decades ago. Even if inactivity was equal, they’re certainly taking in more calories,” said Dr. Sandeep Gupta, associate professor for clinical pediatrics, Indiana University School of Medicine; and director of Riley POWER program.

In addition to high caloric intake and low physical activity, servings have gotten larger and pre-packaged foods with low nutritional value have caused kids to pack on the pounds.

Gupta states obesity in children can lead to depression and decreased social behavior due to teasing, in addition to cholesterol in the body which can affect your blood vessels and lead to other problems such as heart disease, diabetes, liver damage, joint damage, hypertension, reflux, and gall bladder disease.

Although childhood obesity is a problem, Gupta states there is no single culprit for kids gaining weight – the problem and solution involves everyone, especially parents.

“Society has to reassess what we are doing, where we are going and how to modify it. It takes all of us together,” said Gupta.

For that reason, this year the Indiana Minority Health Coalition’s (IMHC) annual luncheon is focusing on childhood obesity. The luncheon titled Reversing Childhood Obesity: Back to the Basics will be held Tuesday, April 21 at the Marriott Hotel downtown, 350 W. Maryland St.

“I proposed we use this as a theme, because of the startling statistics surrounding the state’s obesity rates,” said Ann Winston, consultant for IMHC. “We know that it’s not only a problem locally, but on a national level, it’s reached epidemic proportions.”

Many issues such as legislation on healthier school lunches begin on governmental levels but in the meantime, IMHC is reaching adults through the testimony of kids.

Participants of IMHC’s Teen Fitness Champion Program will be speaking about health challenges. One of several is a young man from the Indiana School for the Blind discussing the challenges of a blind person to stay fit.

As a statewide non-profit organization that exists to eliminate health disparities through research, education, advocacy, and access to healthcare services for minority populations, IMHC also wants to raise awareness about high childhood obesity rates that affect Indiana’s Black and Latino populations.

“Hearing kids talk about their problems is far better than hearing adults talk about the problems kids have,” said Winston.

In addition to the efforts IMHC are doing to make Hoosier kids healthier, Gupta states parents should find out their child’s Body Mass Index (BMI) by a physician to see if their child is healthy, overweight or obese. The BMI is a measurement that takes into account kids’ height and weight to determine where the child falls on a scale.

“If the BMI is on the fifth and 85th percentile, it’s considered normal. Between the 85th and 95th percentile is considered risk for obesity or overweight. Over the 95th percentile is considered obese,” said Gupta.

Once BMI is calculated, parents should then recognize there is a problem and help their child become willing to change. If their child is obese, cut calories and encourage more physical activity. Parents can also contact the POWER clinic at Riley Hospital where kids can work with a physician, registered pediatric dietician, exercise physiologist, or pediatric psychologist to lower weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

A parent joining their children in getting slim is an added bonus for the whole family.

“It’s a problem, but it is not out of their control. They can do it! There are resources out there, doctors offices are there, healthcare providers and the POWER clinic – there’s plenty of help,” said Gupta.

For more information on IMHC’s luncheon, call (317) 926-4011 or visit www.imhc.org. For information on the Riley POWER program, call (317) 274-3774 or visit rileychildrenshospital.com.

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