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Families need to take a bite out of obesity

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The number of overweight children in Canada has continued to climb during the past two decades.

According to the World Health Organization, 31% of Canadian children aged five to 17 are now overweight and/or obese.

Along with the extra weight comes lifestyle-related disease such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. These traditionally ‘adult’ diseases are now being seen in increasing numbers in younger people.

While researchers struggle to determine why we continue to observe this increase in obesity rates, one thing remains clear: If the trend continues, the public health impact as these children age will be great.

Dr. Karl Kabasele said many factors are fuelling child obesity.

"The food industry and the processed foods have kind of created this environment where it’s so easy to get calories," Kabasele said.

"Kids are playing video games, watching TV, not getting out and exercising. So all of these factors are kind of conspiring against kids despite our best efforts."

While nutrition and physical activity will always play a factor in overall health, it is important to point out that many overweight children also have overweight parents.

With one in four adults now obese, it is clear that many of these unhealthy behaviors in children are learned from adults.

So what can families do to reverse this obesity trend and start to build health? Here are a few simple tips you can begin to apply today:

Eat real food — Rarely eat processed foods and consume lots of green, leafy vegetables, colourful fruits, good fats and lean healthy meats, especially oily fish.

Move  — Any kind of exercise is better than none. Daily walking or other low impact activities work best. Encourage kids to get outside and play, whether through organized sports or just for fun.

Sleep — People who sleep eight hours or more a night live longer and are less likely to develop heart disease and other illnesses. Turn off all TV and LCD screens early in the evening to encourage restful sleep.

Dr. Christian Chatzoglou, D.C. is a chiropractor, writer and natural health expert.

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