The Global State of Childhood Obesity

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If you think childhood obesity is a problem relegated to rich countries, it may be time to think again.

A new report out from the World Health Organization (WHO) points to an “alarming” number of obese children.

Highlights from the report include:

  • At least 41 million children under age 5 are obese or overweight
  • There are now more overweight and obese children in low and middle-income countries than in high income countries
  • Overweight kids in the developing world more than doubled from 7.5 million in 1990 to 15.5 million in 2014

One of the largest concerns is the rate at which obesity and overweight is climbing in the developing world. The WHO report found that Libya, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Botswana were the countries with the highest percentage of overweight children among African countries.

And what’s to blame for this rapid rise in pediatric weight? The report cites the marketing of unhealthy food and drinks in the developing world as a primary contributor.

But it’s not all bad news – the WHO report outlined 6 main, practical areas to help end childhood obesity:

  1. Promote intake of healthy foods
  2. Promote physical activity
  3. Preconception and pregnancy care
  4. Early childhood diet and physical activity
  5. Health, nutrition and physical activity for school-age children
  6. Weight management

For more information about the WHO report, click here.

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30 Minutes of Exercise Just Doesn’t Cut It!

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While many professional associations and scientific groups differ on minimum exercise requirements, a recommendation you hear thrown around a lot is, “Aim for 30 minutes of exercise a day, 5 days a week“. In fact, the American Heart Association makes the same exercise recommendations for overall cardiovascular health.

But is this enough to help reduce risk for heart failure – events that affect over 5 million people in the US and are responsible for 1 in 9 deaths? A new study seems to show that these exercise levels may not be optimal for reducing risk.

A new meta-analysis published this week in the journal Circulation found that 30 minutes a day most days of the week probably doesn’t cut it when it comes to heart failure event risk reduction.

The researchers looked at 370,460 men and women who had varying levels of physical activity. They were followed over 15 years and collectively experienced more than 20,000 heart failure events.

Activity was self-reported, but analysis of the data indicates that the 30-minutes-a-day exercise adherents had “modest reductions” in heart failure risk compared to “substantial risk reduction” of 20 percent and 35 percent if they exercised twice or four times that amount (respectively).

Of course heart disease is a multi-faceted condition, and heart failure events aren’t the only objective endpoints researchers can study. But if you’ve been looking for a reason to ramp your physical activity – this study shows it can’t hurt – and may in fact be worth your while!

How Does Your Adult FITTness Stack Up?

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You may remember taking part in the President’s Challenge Fitness Test when you were in elementary school. Millions of American school children have participated in a battery of tests as part of their school-based physical education for decades.

It may have been years since you took PE, but as an adult, you can still test out how your fitness falls by completing the President’s Challenge: Adult Fitness Test.

The adult version of the popular test challenges older Americans to a battery of tests, including:

  • Aerobic Fitness Test: 400 meter walk, 1 mile walk, or 1.5 mile run
  • Muscular Strength & Endurance Test: Half-Sit Up & Push-Up
  • Flexibility Test: Sit & Reach
  • Body Composition Test: BMI & Waist Circumference

Each of the tests has a component that focuses on the FITT principle to improve your fitness. FITT stands for:

  • F – Frequency: how often do you exercise?
  • I – Intensity: how intensely or strenuously do you work out?
  • T – Time: how long do you exercise for?
  • T – Type: what type or kind of activities are you engaging in?

By gradually upping your Frequency, Intensity, Time, or Type of exercise, you can improve your overall fitness level.

So jump online and test out your adult fitness today! To learn more about The President’s Challenge Adult Fitness Test, click here.