In this article I am going to be looking at childhood obesity and how times and circumstances have changed the occurrence of this condition.
The Lean Years
I was born in the period before the second World War when parents learned to be frugal, food processing did not happen, and portions were smaller due to the necessity of rationing to deal with extreme food shortages. During this time childhood obesity was extremely rare.
As an example, “in January 1940 bacon, butter and sugar were rationed. This was followed by successive ration schemes for meat, tea, jam, biscuits, breakfast cereals, cheese, eggs, lard, milk, and canned and dried fruit. In June 1942 the Combined Food Board was set up to coordinate the world supply of food to the Allies, with special attention to flows from the U.S. and Canada to Britain. Almost all foods apart from vegetables and bread were rationed by August 1942. Strict rationing inevitably created a black market. Almost all controlled items were rationed by weight but meat was rationed by price.”
The Fat Years
After the war, with peace came the good times and a demand for convenience, met by eager suppliers of fast (junk) food, microwave ovens and highly processed food.
Diets changed to an increased consumption of starches and sugar in all its forms. At the same time we were being told to eat more carbohydrates, obtain our energy from sugars (and refined starches) and avoid eating fats in the mistaken belief that fats caused obesity and raised cholesterol. Trans fats (hydrogenated vegetable oil) should of course be avoided, but the monounsaturated omega fats are extremely beneficial, especially omega 3.
This mistaken advice from misguided health care professionals opened the doors to the food industry, which was driven by a profit motive with scant concern for our health, to promote refined carbohydrates (sugars).
This has been the main cause of childhood obesity as carbohydrates are empty calories which pile on weight and it has been this change in our diet which has resulted in the tremendous increase in the incidence not only of obesity but also of lifestyle illnesses such as Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
In summary, a health industry with a poor understanding of nutrition and a food industry with little concern for our health. has resulted in worldwide obesity and ill health which was not present when our diet was low in carbohydrate and high in fat.
It’s no secret that worldwide we have weight problems now leading to obesity in younger and younger adults. Unfortunately, our children are developing problems too. Among other things being overweight makes children more susceptible to Type II diabetes, in which the body becomes resistant to insulin, the hormone that regulates blood sugar. Children who are severely overweight are also more likely to develop metabolic syndrome, as well as a litany of health problems including cardiac, respiratory, gastro-intestinal, gynecologic, musculoskeletal, neurologic, and vascular disorders.
I was very encouraged by results of a study conducted by the Nemours Children’s Clinic Division of Paediatric Endocrinology and Metabolism in Jacksonville, Florida and published in The Journal of Paediatrics.
This study found that overweight boys who took Juice Plus+® experienced increased levels of beta carotene, reduced abdominal fat, and improved insulin resistance compared to boys who received placebo.
The study involved 30 boys between the ages of six and ten years old (9 lean and 21 overweight) were randomized to receive either one Juice Plus+® Orchard Blend and one Juice Plus+® Garden Blend capsule per day or two placebo capsules per day for six months. Researchers measured the boys’ body composition and fat mass at the start and the end of the six-month period. The study was double-blind in design, which means that neither the researchers nor the boys knew which treatment the boys were receiving.
It was found that Beta carotene levels increased significantly among both the lean boys and the overweight boys who were given Juice Plus+®. The body uses beta carotene to make vitamin A.
Studies have shown that obese adults and children have reduced levels of beta carotene and vitamin A. Also, abdominal fat mass and triglycerides decreased significantly among the overweight boys who were given Juice Plus+®. Triglycerides are a type of fat found in the blood and in fat tissue. Elevated triglycerides contribute to hardening of the arteries, leading to an increased risk of heart disease. Plus, Insulin sensitivity increased significantly among the overweight boys who were given Juice Plus+®. Insulin resistance – the opposite of insulin sensitivity – is a risk factor for Type II diabetes and heart disease.
Our adult population in general is overweight and more than one in three children are overweight or obese. Childhood obesity has more than tripled in the last three decades and as a result Type II diabetes is occurring at record rates. Heart disease is not far behind.
A recent study found that the arteries in the necks of obese children and teens had accumulated enough arterial plaque that they resembled those of 45 year old.
Fruit and Vegetables Can Do Good
Fruits and vegetables are key to good health. Numerous studies have outlined the health benefits of eating fruits and vegetables and that inadequate consumption of fruits and vegetables in the diet is correlated with an increased risk of obesity.
We are also being told that omega oils are essential for health and in particular benefit brain health e.g. Alzheimers/Vascular Dementia; eyes and vision (my specialty, as an Ophthalmogist) and heart health.
Increasing your fruit and vegetable intake is easy to advise but not so easy to do, which is why I strongly recommend to my patients to add Juice Plus+® to their diet on a daily basis.
Since adding this to my own daily habits I have noticed small but significant changes in my joints, my skin, my alacrity and as someone who had a heart attack over 20 years ago I feel confident that I’m putting more goodness into my body.
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