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Study: Obese Teens Have Higher Risk of Chronic Disability as Adults

Could how you take care of yourself as a teenager determine whether you have a chronic disability as an adult? Researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden think so. According to Medscape, the scientists followed more than 1 million male adolescents for 28 years and determined that obesity in adolescence is linked to later receipt of a disability pension.

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Diseases that showed up were cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, psychiatric and cancer — all indicators of possible premature death. Both obesity and low cardiorespiratory fitness were strongly associated with a risk for later-life disability; those with severe obesity were more than three times likely to be disabled as adults than those who were normal weight as teenagers.

The fact is one-third of American children between the ages of 2 and 19 are now overweight or obese, and that is a concern in itself, before you even figure in what these Karolinska scientists have found. If it sounds morbid, it is: To think that these children are literally starting out with one foot in the grave, or at the very least, with a lifetime of chronic disease ahead of them as adults, is a sad commentary on the state of young people’s lives today.

With 1 in 5 American deaths now associated with obesity, there is no escaping the idea that the number will climb as today’s children age — unless something is done now to stop the inevitable. But how do you do that?

One of the most widely held beliefs is that all you have to do to normalize your weight is to eat less and exercise more. It’s a fallacy that began in the 1950s and continues to this day, despite numerous indicators pointing toward a multitude of factors that contribute to overweight and obesity.

The truth is obesity is rooted in inappropriate food choices, not lack of exercise. Unfortunately, the food industry has been permitted to confuse the issue by shifting the focus and discussion to exercise, completely omitting the importance of your specific food choices.

And those food choices begin with eliminating processed foods and especially sugars from your diet. According to pediatric endocrinologist Dr. Robert Lustig, sugar is a chronic, dose-dependent liver toxin. Today, of the 600,000 food items sold in grocery stores, 80 percent of them contain added sugar. So, far from being relegated to sweet desserts, most everything you eat is loaded with sugar if you're eating processed foods. A jar of spaghetti sauce, for example, contains 5.5 teaspoons more sugar than a snack-sized pack of M&Ms.

Sugar also hides under several dozen different names. Some food manufacturers will hide their sugar content even more by listing several different kinds of sugar separately on the list of ingredients.

To make matters worse, studies show that when babies are fed high-sugar foods from Day 1, they rapidly grow addicted to sugar. Few parents would consider doing this on purpose. They simply fail to realize that many infant formulas are absolutely loaded with sugar. They're basically feeding their infant the equivalent of soda, several times a day.

The bottom line is the obesity epidemic needs to be stopped, beginning with children, and the good news is you can do this together with them. That means:

• Ignoring the junk food marketing ploys that try to convince you that all you and your children need to do to lose weight is exercise more. Yes, physical movement and exercise are a necessary part of living a health life, but you can never exercise your way out of all the calories and weight-boosting ingredients in processed foods.

• Eating real, ideally organic REAL food.

• Opting for certified grass fed meats to avoid pesticides, as well as hormones, antibiotics and other growth-promoting drugs that can interfere with your metabolism.

• Reducing net carbs to under 50 grams a day and restricting protein to 0.5 gram/pound of lean body mass. The remaining calories come from high-quality fat sources like avocados, butter, coconut oil, macadamia and pecans.

Implementing a program that encourages getting your kids moving. First, it's imperative to limit the amount of time your child spends watching TV, or playing computer and video games, and to replace some of these sedentary activities with physical activities.

Overweight and obese children need at least 30 minutes of exercise each day, and may benefit from closer to 60 minutes. But even if your children are not overweight, you should encourage them to take part in physically engaging activities after school and on weekends.

There are plenty to choose from, from sports and dance classes to gymnastics, bike riding and playing tag with friends. Allow your child to choose activities that appeal to them, and remember that the trick to getting them interested in exercise at a young age is to keep it fun.

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