Monday, April 14, 2008

Try Ballroom Dancing!

In New York City, where funding cuts and difficult conditions were eliminating all physical education in public schools, a revolutionary program providing ballroom classes to grade school children brought families and communities together in an exciting way of increasing activity. Happy Healthy Kids hopes to bring this same effective program to Utah's schools!

This culturally minded program will provide all students the opportunity of physical activity in a form that is fun, appealing, and exciting, providing ballroom classes to fourth and fifth grade classes throughout the state. If this proposal is approved, Happy Healthy Kids will partner with the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) and the American Ballroom Theater to ensure that all of our instructors are qualified to teach under Utah law. Local school boards and the Utah’s State Office of Education will collaborate to ensure adequate schools participate in the program, and local PTA’s will provide necessary promotion to parents. Happy Healthy Kids is excited about this effective program and, should funds be awarded, plans to implement these classes in the Fall of 2009.
For example of one program happening at Lousianna State University, visit

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What causes obesity?
A: There are many causes of obesity. Generally, genetic factors, lifestyle habits, or a combination of both may be involved. Lifestyle habits include eating choices, sedentary lifestyles, an increase of time in front of the TV and computer, and a decrease in physical education programs at public schools. A more detailed explanation of some of the causes of obesity can be found at:

Q: What is the percentage of overweight children in the United States?
A: Results from the 2003-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), using measured heights and weights, indicate that an estimated 17 percent of children and adolescents ages 2-19 years are overweight.

Q: What is the difference between being overweight and being obese?
A: Overweight and obesity are both labels for ranges of weight that are greater than what is generally considered healthy for a given height. The terms also identify ranges of weight that have been shown to increase the likelihood of certain diseases and other health problems. For adults, overweight and obesity ranges are determined by using weight and height to calculate a number called the “body mass index” (BMI). BMI ranges for children and teens are defined so that they take into account normal differences in body fat between boys and girls and differences in body fat at various ages.

Q: How does being overweight or obese affect a person’s health?
A: When people are or overweight or obese, they are more likely to develop health problems such as the following:
*Dyslipidemia (for example, high total cholesterol or high levels of triglycerides)
*Type 2 diabetes
*Coronary heart disease
*Gallbladder disease
*Sleep apnea and respiratory problems
*Some cancers (endometrial, breast, and colon)
*The more overweight a person is, the more likely that person is to have health problems. *Among people who are overweight and obese, weight loss can help reduce the chances of developing these health problems. Studies show that if a person is overweight or obese, reducing body weight by 5 percent to 10 percent can improve one’s health.

Q: What are the costs associated with overweight and obesity?
A: According to The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent and Decrease Overweight and Obesity, the cost of obesity in the United States in 2000 was more than $117 billion ($61 billion direct and $56 billion indirect).

Q: What are some suggestions for losing weight?
A: Most experts recommend that someone attempting to lose a large amount of weight consult with a personal physician or health care professional before beginning a weight-loss program. The Surgeon General’s Healthy Weight Advice for Consumers makes the following general recommendations:
Aim for a healthy weight. People who need to lose weight should do so gradually, at a rate of one-half to two pounds per week.
Be active. The safest and most effective way to lose weight is to reduce calories and increase physical activity.
Eat well. Select sensible portion sizes and follow the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Q: How can physical activity help prevent overweight and obesity?
A: Physical activity, along with a healthy diet, plays an important role in the prevention of overweight and obesity (USDHHS, 2001). In order to maintain a stable weight, a person needs to expend the same amount of calories as he or she consumes.
Although the body burns calories for everyday functions such as breathing, digestion, and routine daily activities, many people consume more calories than they need for these functions each day. A good way to burn off extra calories and prevent weight gain is to engage in regular physical activity beyond routine activities.

Q: What is being done by CDC to address the problem of overweight and obesity?
A: CDC and its partners work in a variety of ways to prevent and control obesity. A few examples of these efforts include:
*CDC funds a number of programs in state health departments, communities, and schools. For example, CDC's Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity funds state health department programs to help develop and carry out targeted nutrition and physical activity interventions to prevent obesity and other chronic diseases. CDC also provides consultation, technical assistance, and training to use programs.
*CDC funds other programs which have physical activity, nutrition, and obesity components, such as STEPS to a HealthierUS and Coordinated School Health Programs.
*CDC monitors weight status or related behaviors, such as diet and physical activity. These efforts include the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), Pediatric Nutrition Surveillance System (PedNSS), and Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS).
*CDC funds and conducts research on the individual and environmental factors that determine weight status and related health effects, on strategies and interventions to change weight or weight-related behaviors, and on the economic impact of overweight and obesity.
*CDC provides growth charts that are used to identify weight problems among young people and provides training on the use of those charts.

Q: What About Medications and Special Diets?
A: When used as part of a comprehensive program including diet and nutrition changes, exercise, and lifestyle modification, prescription anti-obesity medications can be a useful adjunct to a medical weight loss program. Medication alone will not lead to successful weight loss and maintenance. Many of the appetite suppressants and other medications available today have a long history of safe and successful use. New medications are being researched and become available after clinical testing and Food and Drug Administration approval.

Q: What can be done to increase activity as a family?
A: As parents, be an example of fitting physical activities into your day. Do fun, active things together as a family. Limit time in front of the TV and computer screen. Encourage fun physical activities, rather than forcing exercise which may seem like a punishment. Start small and start now!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Introduction to Childhood Obesity in Utah

Childhood obesity rates have sky rocketed in the last ten years. In fact, rates of childhood obesity have more than doubled since the late 1970's. At the end of 2005, 10% of 2- to 5-year-olds and more than 15% of children between the ages of 6 and 19 were considered overweight, and those rates have risen each year. One recent study within the state found that the percentage of overweight students increased with grade. In 2006, more than one in five elementary school students were at an unhealthy weight. If these trends continue, within ten years a total of 30.3% of elementary students in Utah will be at an unhealthy weight.

There are many factors causing this rapid increase in childhood obesity, and two of the main ones are sedentary lifestyles and poor eating habits. Physical activity and nutritious eating are vital to reversing current trends, yet in 2005, 80% of Utah’s youth ate less than five servings of fruits and vegetables per week, and 64% of children did not meet recommended levels of physical activity. Approximately 77% of children did not receive a daily physical education class in school, and 39% did not receive any physical education class throughout the entire school year. Current data reveals that between the ages of 2 and 17, children in the US view on average over three years of their lives watching television. That is not including time spent viewing movies and playing video games or using a computer.

The current obesity rates are taking their toll, and will continue taking a toll into the future. Overweight children are at risk for serious health conditions like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol - diseases we used to consider as exclusively adult conditions. Obesity may be taxing emotionally and socially as well. Children who are unhappy with their weight may be more likely than average-weight children to develop unhealthy dieting habits and eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia, and they may be more prone to low self esteem, substance abuse, and depression. Overweight children are also at an increased risk of developing conditions like heart disease, heart attack, and stroke as adults.

Luckily, we can reverse these trends, and that is the goal of Happy Healthy Kids. Visit this blog for ideas on how to increase your child's activity, and make healthy living a lifelong family goal. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

1. Set an example: do things together as a family

2. Limit TV and video game time

3. Encourage fun activity, rather than exercises that may seem like punishment

4. Start Now!

For more great ideas on how to get your family active, visit: http://http//