Sunday, April 20, 2014
Inquirer Daily News


POSTED: Wednesday, February 12, 2014, 9:50 AM

Childhood obesity and access to health care remain some of the most pressing issues when it comes to children’s health in Bucks, Delaware and Chester counties, according to recently released reports from Public Citizens for Children and Youth, a children’s advocacy non-profit.

The reports found that nearly 20,000 children in Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties are uninsured.  More than a quarter of those kids (5,692) are undocumented and cannot enroll in CHIP or Medical Assistance. 

In the three counties, about 114,000 children are overweight or obese. In addition, disparities persisted between children of different races, ethnicities, insurance statuses and incomes.

POSTED: Wednesday, February 5, 2014, 5:30 AM
Filed Under: Fitness | Gary A. Emmett | Obesity

Only about one-quarter of American teens aged 12–15 years engaged in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity for at least 60 minutes daily, according to recently released data from the National Center for Health Statistics.

The findings from the 2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and the NHANES National Youth Fitness Survey also showed that the percentage of male teens who were physically active for at least 60 minutes daily decreased as weight status increased.

These numbers are troubling to me because Inactivity is the hidden bomb that will hurt our children as they age.  Exercise when young makes one’s bones thicker and sturdier and will delay osteoporosis later in life.  Regular exercise prevents, to some extent, obesity, and definitely makes the muscles better developed and the cardiovascular system more able to deal with stress.

POSTED: Thursday, October 31, 2013, 9:49 AM
Filed Under: Fitness | Lauren Falini | Obesity

What does your child say when someone asks about his or her favorite subject? Does your child usually say recess or gym? Do you cringe wishing that reading, math, or science was the answer? Actually, it’s not wrong to love recess or gym class, and recent studies show that recess and gym class are just as important as reading, math, and science for your child’s overall development.

With budgets being cut and pressure on academic performance increasing, it is no surprise that recess and gym class are being sacrificed. Research is showing that this is a big mistake and children need both recess and gym class.


POSTED: Thursday, October 17, 2013, 5:30 AM
Filed Under: Growing Pains | Obesity | Parenting

Today's guest blogger is Alexis Skoufalos, EdD, associate dean, professional development, at the Jefferson School of Population Health and is a member of the Philadelphia Health Initiative.

“Mom, Dad, am I fat?” It's a question that many parents aren't sure how to answer.

There’s no escaping the fact that people make judgments about who we are based on how we look. For kids who are overweight, especially in the teen years, the bullying can be devastating and have a negative effect for years to come.  And now that school districts are including Body Mass Index assessments as part of children’s physicals, there is the added confusion over what to do if the dreaded “fat letter” arrives saying your child is at an unhealthy weight.

It's hard for parents to know how to talk to their kids about the relationship between weight and health. This is a crucial conversation, now that 1 in 3 American children is overweight, to encourage the healthy behaviors that can lower our kids risk of developing diabetes and other weight-related disorders.

How to answer that difficult question? Some things that you can say to your child depending on their age are:

  • “I love you and I don’t have a problem with how you look, but as your parent, I’m concerned that you are carrying around extra weight and this can hurt your health. It can also mean that you don’t have as much energy or get to do the things that you really like to do.”
  • “Weight is a measure of your health and carrying extra weight can hurt your health.”
  • “Carrying extra weight means your body has to work harder than it needs to. Just like when you don’t like it when your teacher gives you extra homework, your body doesn’t like to do more work than it has to. If we can help your body stop overworking, we can make sure you have enough energy to do things that you like to do and what makes you happy.”
POSTED: Wednesday, September 25, 2013, 6:00 AM
Filed Under: Fitness | Lauren Falini | Obesity | Tips

Could the childhood Obesity Epidemic really be improving? A recent study published in Pediatrics showed improving trends in physical activity, sedentary behavior, diet, and Body Mass Index in sixth to tenth grade students in the United States from 2001 to 2010. Researchers found an increase in the number of days a week children participated in at least 60 minutes of physical activity along with an increased consumption of fruits and vegetables, and eating breakfast. They also found decreases in television viewing, eating sweets and drinking sugared beverages.

This is great news and shows significant improvements in teenagers doing healthy behaviors. Hopefully, this improvement reflects the education parents and children are receiving in schools, the community and doctors offices.

Another recent study showed that obesity rates have slightly decreased in preschool aged children in 18 different U.S. states. This also shows that we are successfully addressing childhood obesity in both preschool aged children and teenagers. This does not mean the epidemic is over. We still have a distance to go to reverse this epidemic, but we are moving forward. We can continue the fight by bringing healthy behaviors into our homes.

POSTED: Tuesday, August 20, 2013, 5:45 AM
Filed Under: Obesity | W. Douglas Tynan

Should schools send letters home to parents indicating their child’s Body Mass Index percentile and weight category? An opinion piece in Pediatrics released online earlier this week discusses how the BMI screening letters have come under harsh criticism in Massachusetts and are now being called “fat letters.”

Currently, 21 states have enacted policies or made recommendations regarding the collection of height and weight data or assessment of body composition in public schools. Pennsylvania began to phase in BMI screening for all students in the 2005–2006 school year. New Jersey does not have a state policy. However, its State Board of Education Administrative Code requires annual height and weight screenings for each student in kindergarten through grade 12.

“No parent would be proud to receive a letter stating their child is in the overweight or obese category, but the awareness and acknowledgment that he or she could have a weight problem begins the process of a multidisciplinary approach to change. It is time to put aside this pride for the future of our children’s health,” writes author Michael R. Flaherty, DO, a pediatric resident physician at Baystate Medical Center, Springfield, Mass., and clinical associate at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston.

POSTED: Tuesday, July 16, 2013, 5:25 AM
Filed Under: Fitness | Lauren Falini | Obesity | Tips

Are you tired of hearing, “I am bored, there’s nothing to do?” Are you getting frustrated that your kids are sleeping in late, watching TV, playing video games, or on the computer all day? Does your child look and act like they have no energy?

Are you worried your child is going to gain weight this summer, from all the extra snacking and screen time (TV, computer, video games, and cell phones), or your child is going to forget a good part of the lessons they learned last school year?

When children are in school, they follow a schedule: wake up at the same time every day, go to school, have class, eat lunch, and then have classes in the afternoon. They have a schedule after school they follow as well: after school activities, homework, dinner, and bedtime. Now that your child has gone from a schedule to what may seem like endless free time, it is no surprise that they are bored or spending their days reclining on the couch.

POSTED: Thursday, July 11, 2013, 5:00 AM
Filed Under: Beth Wallace | Obesity

Looking for another reason children should step away from the TV? You can add “contributes to obesity” to the list.  In fact, a report from the World Health Organization’s European office stated that the marketing of junk food to children through commercials and social media has become “disastrously effective” to the health of children.  Now with one in three children in America considered overweight or obese, could part of the answer really be a remote click away?

Research continues to prove that there is a strong correlation between the increased marketing of non-nutritious foods to children and the rates of childhood obesity.  A recent study by the University of Michigan found that children who regularly watched television commercials consumed more junk food, and had a distorted view of healthy portion sizes and choices, than households where commercial-free television was viewed.  The most frequently advertised foods were sugar-sweetened beverages, sweetened cereals, prepackaged snack foods, fast foods, and convenience meals.   

Television isn’t the only place where children and teens are being exposed to unhealthy marketing.  Children’s websites, social media sites, and smart phone apps also target children and teens with age-specific product advertising. Children under the age of eight cannot understand the persuasive intent of advertising, according to the American Psychological Association.  The APA also states that “product preference” is established after just one commercial exposure, and is strengthened with repeated exposures. 

About this blog
The Healthy Kids blog is your window into the latest news, research and advice around children's health. Learn more about our growing list of contributors here.

If you have questions about your child's health, ask them here.

Anna Nguyen Healthy Kids blog Editor
Stephen Aronoff, M.D., M.B.A. Temple University Hospital
Christopher C. Chang, M.D., Ph.D Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, Jefferson Medical Colg
Mario Cruz, M.D St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, Drexel University College of Medicine
Katherine K. Dahlsgaard, Ph.D. Lead Psychologist - The Anxiety Behaviors Clinic, CHOP
Gary A. Emmett, M.D. Director of Hospital Pediatrics at TJU Hospital & Pediatrics Professor at Thomas Jefferson Univ.
Lauren Falini Bariatric exercise physiologist, Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children
Hazel Guinto-Ocampo, M.D. Nemours duPont Pediatrics/Bryn Mawr Hospital
Rima Himelstein, M.D. Crozer-Keystone Health System
Anita Kulick President & CEO, Educating Communities for Parenting
Janet Rosenzweig, MS, PhD, MPA VP for Programs & Research for Prevent Child Abuse America
Beth Wallace Smith, RD Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
W. Douglas Tynan, Ph.D. Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, Jefferson Medical Colg
Flaura Koplin Winston, MD, PhD Scientific Director of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Center for Injury Research and Prevention
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