Fighting Obesity and Chronic Illnesses
The proliferation of chronic illnesses among our youth has sounded an alarm throughout the health community. The staggering statistics below provide a snapshot of some of the serious challenges facing children and teens:*
- Approximately 20% of youth between 6 and 19 years of age are obese
- 61% of obese youth have at least one additional risk factor for heart disease
- Obesity increases risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes
- 15% of youth have high cholesterol levels
- 3 million US teens are smokers; smoking may cause 75% of heart disease cases in youth who otherwise have a very low risk of developing heart disease
- 80% of 3rd - 6th graders are dissatisfied with their weight and body image
- 1 in 5 females struggle with eating disorders; 90% of this group is comprised of females between the ages of 12 and 25
- 11% of high school students have been diagnosed with an eating disorder
- 50,000 individuals will die each year as a result of eating disorders
Kill your television
A study just published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine found that increased television time for toddlers was associated with not-insignificant negative outcomes by age 10, including decreased physical activity and test scores…and increased snacking.
Nothing really surprising there — just another reminder to be vigilant about the hours our kids spend parked in front of the tube.
Improve Balance, Relieve Childhood Anxiety
By Rick Nauert PhD Senior News Editor.
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 1/24, 2009
Many of the 40 million American adults who suffer from anxiety disorders also have problems with balance.
As increasing numbers of children are diagnosed with anxiety, researchers have discovered that the link between balance and anxiety can be assessed at an early age and that something can be done about it before it becomes a problem. Dr. Orit Bart at Tel Aviv University’s School of Health Professions, and her colleagues, have found that a simple course of physical treatment for balance problems can also resolve anxiety issues in children. Her work offers new hope for normal social and emotional development for children with both disorders.
Anxiety has a significant impact on children’s personal and academic well-being. While not all kids with anxiety have balance problems, all those with balance problems do exhibit symptoms of anxiety, pointing to a link between the two conditions.
“This is a breakthrough in the field of occupational therapy,” says Dr. Bart. Her study — done in collaboration with TAU researchers Yair Bar-Haim, Einat Weizman, Moran Levin, Avi Sadeh, and Matti Mintz, and to be published in Research in Developmental Disabilities — investigated the anxiety-balance connection in young children for the first time.
Dr. Bart tracked children between the ages of five and seven who had been diagnosed with both problems to see how treatment would affect each disorder. After a 12-week intervention of sensory-motor intervention, the children in Dr. Bart’s study improved their balance skills. The therapy also reduced the children’s anxiety to normal levels, she reports. As their balance and anxiety issues improved, the children’s self-esteem also increased.
Treating the Mind Through the Body
“You can’t treat children with anxiety in a cognitive way because of their immaturity and lack of operational thinking. Working with the body may be the answer,” Dr. Bart explains. The treatment therefore focused on letting the children use equipment to experience their environment and move in space. Dr. Bart found that by working with their bodies, children could work through their emotional problems, including anxiety. Dr. Bart is now working on expanding the initial results through a larger study with more control groups. The goal is to explore the exact nature of the relationship between balance and anxiety in children, and to focus the results on more specific treatment types.
“Young children who have anxiety should first be assessed for balance issues to see if that is the source of the problem,” says Dr. Bart.
“We can now treat these children because we have a better understanding of the relation between these disorders.” Source: Tel Aviv University
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