The Ontario Medical Association (OMA) is calling on doctors, parents, schools and governments to make childhood obesity prevention a priority.
This „call to arms,“ as termed by Dr. Alan Hudak, a pediatrician with the OMA, came with the alarming discovery that children in Ontario may not live as long as their parents.
An obese child has a 70 per cent chance of becoming an obese adult and may face several consequences earlier on. In addition to possible self-esteem issues, an obese child has a greater risk of hypertension, high cholesterol and high blood pressure known risk factors for cardiovascular and heart diseases in adulthood.
A growing concern found in adolescence is type 2 diabetes, with children accounting for over 50 per cent of new diagnoses. The solution suggested in the OMA’s latest report „An Ounce of Prevention or a Ton of Trouble: Is there an Epidemic of Obesity in Children?“ is a back to basics approach.
Ted Boadway, executive director of health policy, emphasized small environmental changes need to be made, rather than a big fix attempt.
The report highlights 12 recommendations for physicians, families, schools and government to act on.
Though several of these recommendations include structural changes – screening for weight problems, restrictions on food advertising to children under 13, and one hour of aerobic physical activity per day in schools – the focus for change is primarily on families.
Dr. Greg Flynn, OMA president, cites busy lifestyles – due to single parent families or households where both parents work – as a challenge to healthy living. Dr. Flynn who states that he practises what he preaches stresses that parents need to set an example.
This means they should make healthy changes to their own diet, enjoy a television-free dinner hour, and take their children outside to play. As a parent himself, Dr. Flynn understands the challenge for working parents to encourage healthy eating and regular exercise.
He adamantly enforces that parents make it a priority. A specific example to help parents, offers Dr. Flynn, would be to turn off the television and computer between 6 and 8 p.m. In place of these pastimes, he states confidently they’ll play.“
A complete list of list of recommendations can be found online at the OMA’s website.
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