Dr. Leslie FishmanColorado Mountain MedicalVail, CO Colorado

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October 22, 2012
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Active lifestyles for kids leading to healthier lives

It is no secret that there is an obesity epidemic in our country. Health risks of obesity include high blood pressure, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, joint problems and many others. The wealth of outdoor activities available here in all four seasons makes it easier for all of us in the valley to avoid becoming additional casualties in this obesity epidemic. Unfortunately, obesity is now affecting much younger people, including children as young as preschool age. Children who are obese are now being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, something that rarely happened in the past, as it was known as an adult disease. Rates of high blood pressure and joint problems also are increasing in overweight children. Sadly, if obese children become obese adults, they will be at risk for developing heart disease as young adults.As a pediatrician, I realize how lucky children are who live in our valley. From a fitness perspective, like their parents, children have many choices for being involved in activities throughout the year. Becoming involved and fit in childhood makes it more likely that our kids will establish and maintain a healthy weight. Many of the habits we establish as children follow us into adulthood. Children who are involved in sports or fitness activities are more likely to continue with these good habits as adults. This lowers their risk factors for chronic diseases that are common in adults who are overweight and out of shape. There are many other benefits to children (and their families) who are participating in sports and fitness events. In general, active, involved children will do better academically, and they are less likely to experiment with drugs or alcohol or smoke cigarettes. Peer relationships tend to be better in kids involved in sports. Relationships with parents also tend to be stronger, and there is less (but not totally absent) conflict at home. Sexual activity also tends to begin at a later age in adolescents who are involved in extracurricular activities and sports.Like anything, there can be too much of a good thing. Parents should take basic precautions when their children are involved in sporting activities. Simple things do make a difference. Appropriate gear such as helmets when skiing or biking or protective equipment such as pads, sunscreen and proper footwear are important, depending upon the activity. Children and teen's bodies tend to be more fragile, as muscles, bones and joints are still developing, and overuse injuries can be more severe and consequential. Parents need to teach their children to "listen to their bodies" and impress upon them that it is never good to play through pain. We are now more aware of the consequences of head injuries. With any head injury, always err on the side of caution. Make sure head injuries are evaluated promptly and properly. Teenagers tend to downplay their injuries, particularly with head injuries, so when they say they are "OK," make sure they are "OK." Finally, make sure your child is not doing too much, not overprogrammed and not doing things because they think their parents want them to be do something. Give them permission to quit or take a break from an activity or a sport. Be sure they are doing things because they want to do them, and it will be more fun for everyone. Colorado Mountain Medical is a partner in the Vail Valley Partnership's Health and Wellness Initiative. All of our providers strive to keep those who live here healthy, fit and active participants in all that our community has to offer. The Vail Valley Health & Wellness Initiative is led by the Vail Valley Partnership in conjunction with like-minded businesses, trade associations, consumer organizations and economic-development organizations whose goal is to increase medical groups and meetings in the Vail Valley and bring greater awareness to the ample, world-class health, recreation and wellness opportunities available to local residents and visitors to drive economic vitality.Colorado Mountain Medical is a partner in the Vail Valley Partnership's Health and Wellness Initiative. All of our providers strive to keep those who live here healthy, fit and active participants in all that our community has to offer. The Vail Valley Health & Wellness Initiative is led by the Vail Valley Partnership in conjunction with like-minded businesses, trade associations, consumer organizations and economic-development organizations whose goal is to increase medical groups and meetings in the Vail Valley and bring greater awareness to the ample, world-class health, recreation and wellness opportunities available to local residents and visitors to drive economic vitality.


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The VailDaily Updated Oct 22, 2012 04:08PM Published Oct 22, 2012 04:01PM Copyright 2012 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.