On Monday the American Academy of Pediatrics has publish new guidelines on preventing childhood obesity. The new rules are part of the trend that is now prioritizing prevention as a means to reduce the cases where medical treatment becomes necessary.
The AAP has changed the 2003 guidelines and replaced them with a more hands on, prevention directed effort that involves parents working together with pediatricians.
The idea that disease prevention must be a priority in all field of medicine , might not only save the patient from painful experiences but could also be a lot more economical. A single simple decision like eating only the recommended amount of sugar every day can save millions in treatment bills.
The American Heart Association states that the maximum amount of added sugars consumed daily should not be higher than 150 calories (37.5 grams) for men and 100 calories (25 grams) for women.
However several reports state that in the last ten years U.S. citizens consumed as much as 76.7 grams of added sugars on average daily which can lead to type 2 diabetes and heart disease which have costly and sometimes painful treatments, if they can be treated at all.
The AAP guidelines encourage parents to make pre-planned frequent visits to pediatricians, and together work to recognize the early symptoms of obesity in children and prevent the disease from advancing.
Obesity can be brought on at a very early age by genetics or the mother’s behavioral patter. Smoking, stress, lack of sleep and alcohol consumption can all serve as factors for pre-natal conditions that might lead the infant to be predisposed to obesity.
The guidelines also stress the necessity for a balanced diet that must include fresh fruits and vegetables and urges pediatricians to inform as much as possible all patients, on how and where to buy fresh foods and of their importance.
While many pregnant women or young children cannot afford a balanced diet due to financial issues , several government programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program are tailored especially for such cases.
Physical activity also plays a key role in a healthy child’s developments, according to the guidelines. A 60 minute minimum of physical activity every day is highly recommended by all specialists, not only for the general heath of the child but also for his mental and social development.
However the greatest challenge for fighting childhood obesity in the U.S. is the cost of doctor’s appointments and treatment plus the added cost of maintaining an everyday supply of quality food.
Due to certain contractual standards most parents have to pay for the visits to the dietitian or other specialists out of their own pocket since the insurance does not cover the costs of such visits unless there is a medical emergency.
Diets and caloric daily intakes have to be calculated at least once every 3 months by specialist according to each body type in order for them to be constructive or effective. Without proper care and know-how even healthy looking meals can pose risks to children if they lack certain vital minerals and vitamins that are crucial to a healthy development.
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