With children nationwide soon to start a new semester, many parents will begin stocking up on school supplies and mapping out carpool schedules. Health Net, Inc. (NYSE:HNT) is reminding moms and dads that their back-to-school to-do lists also should include an inventory of their children’s health, particularly as it relates to childhood obesity. In fact, the seriousness of this issue was underscored just last month, when the American Medical Association approved a policy stating that obesity should be called a disease and not simply a condition. While obesity negatively affects people of all ages, the medical impact on children and adolescents – because it can carry over into adulthood – is particularly alarming. “According to the American Heart Association, one in three U.S. kids and teens are now overweight or obese,” says Patricia Buss, M.D., medical and health care services operations officer for Health Net, Inc. “We know that childhood obesity is causing a broad range of health problems that previously were considered adult health issues. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also reports that children and adolescents who are obese are likely to be obese as adults, so these health issues can last a lifetime.” Specifically, the CDC lists the immediate health effects of childhood obesity as:
- Obese children and teens are more likely to have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure. In a population-based sample of 5- to 17-year-olds, 70 percent of obese youngsters had at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
- Obese adolescents are more likely to have pre-diabetes, a condition in which blood glucose levels indicate a high risk for development of diabetes.
- Youngsters who are obese are at greater risk for bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and social as well as psychological problems such as stigmatization and poor self-esteem.
- Children and adolescents who are obese are likely to be obese as adults and are therefore more at risk for adult health problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and osteoarthritis.
- Being overweight or obese is associated with increased risk for many types of cancer, including cancer of the breast, colon, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, pancreas, gall bladder, thyroid, ovary, cervix and prostate, as well as multiple myeloma and Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
To help its providers care for kids and teens who are at risk for being overweight or obese, Health Net developed the Pediatric and Adolescent Overweight Assessment and Management Guidelines flipchart. This resource outlines the latest tools and practice recommendations for providers who are treating youngsters who are or at risk of being overweight or obese.Tips for Parents Experts at the Mayo Clinic offer the following tips for parents who want to help their children reach and maintain a healthy weight:
- When buying groceries, opt for fruits and vegetables. Always have healthy snacks available, and never use food as a reward or punishment.
- Limit sweetened beverages, including soda, energy drinks and those containing fruit juice. Healthier choices are water, 1% or fat-free milk, and 100% fruit juice.
- Sit down together for family meals. Avoid eating in front of a screen, such as a television, computer or video game.
- Decrease the number of times you eat out, especially at fast-food restaurants.
- Limit recreational computer and TV time to no more than two hours a day. Other sedentary activities, including playing video and computer games or talking on the phone, also should be limited.
- Emphasize activity, not exercise. Structured exercise programs aren’t necessary, as the goal is simply to get your youngster moving, and that can be accomplished through traditional childhood activities such as playing hide-and-seek or jumping rope.
- If you want an active child, be active yourself. Find fun activities that the whole family can do together; consider swimming, hiking or gardening.
About Health NetHealth Net, Inc. is a publicly traded managed care organization that delivers managed health care services through health plans and government-sponsored managed care plans. Its mission is to help people be healthy, secure and comfortable. Health Net provides and administers health benefits to approximately 5.4 million individuals across the country through group, individual, Medicare (including the Medicare prescription drug benefit commonly referred to as “Part D”), Medicaid, U.S. Department of Defense, including TRICARE, and Veterans Affairs programs. Through its subsidiaries, Health Net also offers behavioral health, substance abuse and employee assistance programs, managed health care products related to prescription drugs, managed health care product coordination for multi-region employers, and administrative services for medical groups and self-funded benefits programs. For more information on Health Net, Inc., please visit Health Net’s website at www.healthnet.com. This release contains links to other sites that are not owned or controlled by Health Net. Please be aware that Health Net is not responsible for the contents linked or referred to from this release. Links to other websites are provided for the user’s convenience. Health Net does not express an opinion on the content or the properties of such linked websites and disclaims any liability in connection therewith.