Steve Hryniuk on January 04, 2011

L.E.A.N.

Lifestyle Exercise Attitude Nation

Childhood obesity is now a national concern with a national agenda. In February 2010, Michelle Obama launched “a very ambitious program to end the American plague of childhood obesity in a single generation . ‘Let’s Move’ has four pillars: getting parents more informed about nutrition and exercise; improving the quality of food in schools; making healthy foods more affordable and accessible to families; and increasing the focus on physical education. In May President Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum establishing the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative to promote and support innovative community-level efforts to conserve outdoor spaces and to reconnect Americans to the outdoors.

Dr. William Sears, the well known American pediatrician who co-authored more than 30 parenting books, was far ahead of this federal task force. In 2003 he expanded his expertise to include educational programs to reduce childhood obesity and its related costs. He is best known for “The Baby Book, Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby From Birth to Age Two . He believed that a child’s health begins with the parent and understood the important role parents play in adopting a healthy lifestyle environment. He decided to offer educational programs with simple techniques to make nutrition fun, tasty, and easy to understand and implement. This was well before 2010 when childhood obesity was officially declared an epidemic with one in three kids being overweight or obese, and the expenditure of $150 billion a year treating obesity-related Illnesses!

In 2007, with the help of Exercise Physiologist, Sean Foy, MA, a family of workshops was developed and refined called The L.E.A.N. Start Program. By 2008 over 600 parents participated in the learning workshops where the clinical data from the program showed statistically significant behavioral changes for the parents and children. These outstanding results are thought to exceed those of any program taught directly to children at the time. The program consisted of six hours of class time that focused on nutrition and exercise needs of 3 to 12 year olds. The average class size was 10 to 20 people led by certified L.E.A.N. coaches. In 2009 additional L.E.A.N. programs were introduced: a program specifically designed to teach elementary school aged children; a program for expecting moms and nursing infants; a program for toddlers up to age 3 and a program for teens aged 13-18 and their parents.

According to the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion childhood obesity has more than tripled in the last 30 years. Obesity is the result of caloric imbalance: too few calories expended for the amount of calories consumed.Obese youth are more at risk for cardiovascular disease, bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and social and psychological problems such as stigmatization and poor self esteem. In addition they are more likely than youth of normal weight to become overweight or obese adults and consequently more at risk for adult health problems including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer, and osteoarthritis.

Once considered an affliction of the lazy and indulgent, the epidemic has swept up the wealthy, middle class and the poor, city dwellers, suburbanites, those in rural areas; and people of all races and ethnicities.

Now that the White House has acknowledged how much is at stake, Obama signed a presidential memorandum to create the first-ever federal task force to provide “optimal coordination between private sector companies, not-for-profits, agencies within the government and other organizations to address the problem. He said, “I have set a goalto solve the problem of childhood obesity within a generation so that children born today will reach adulthood at a healthy weight. 10 billion dollars over 10 years has been allotted for the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act.

The L.E.A.N. program’s series of interactive clinically proven workshops is one of theseprivate sector endeavors to help families embrace the four pillars of health. If you areinterested in attending a workshop or becoming a certified coach you can find information at http://www.drsearslean.com/solutions/healthcare/childhood-obesity . Parents can make a real difference through fun and engaging wellness classes that incorporate the whole family‚.obesity isn’t just a vanity issue. Obesity-related diseases account for 9.1% of total medical expenditures in the U.S. and leads to numerous health complications and drains healthcare resources.

Though genetics, as well as physical activity, contribute to childhood obesity, the largest impact on a child’s eating behavior is parenting practices. An indulgent eating style is strongly associated with childhood obesity. The Children’s Nutrition Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas is in the process of observing the impact of different parental levels of control on children. One of their suggestions is that “parents should involve their children in shopping and food preparation and should praise them when they select a healthy option. It is hopeful that research investigations such as this will lead to new, cost effective strategies to help America’s kids make healthier food choices, manage their weight and set and achieve fitness goals.

Remember, parenting practices influence childhood obesity and Lifestyle, Exercise, Attitude, and Nutrition are the solutions. Let’s fight this epidemic.

10 Most Obese States of 2010

1. Mississippi
2. Alabama (tie)
2. Tennessee (tie)
4. West Virginia
5. Louisiana
6. Oklahoma
7. Kentucky
8. Arkansas
9. South Carolina
10. North Carolina

Steve Hryniuk

Steve Hryniuk is the Associate Director of Digital at Ergobaby and Orbit Baby.

When not working this blog and building a better store website for Ergobaby, he’s enjoying life in Reno, Nevada.

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