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Childhood Obesity

Worldwide obesity rates are skyrocketing with ALL age groups, and both males and females are finding their BMI’s (body mass index) and waist circumferences on “the rise”. Obesity has a significant influence on morbidity and mortality, including cardiovascular disease (e.g. coronary heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure), diabetes, some types of cancer, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, macular degeneration, cataracts, sleep deprivation/insomnia, sleep apnea, and premature death. As a result, overweight/obesity is responsible for a significant public health burden. In the United States, 68% of the population is overweight or obese, and overweight and obese moms and dads tend to have overweight or obese children. Adolescent obesity rates in 1988-94 were 10.5% and in 2013-2014 they had increased to 20.6%. In that same period, extreme obesity rates climbed from 2.6% to 11.5%. Obesity is a multifactorial condition influenced by many factors, including genes, diet, lifestyle choices, sleep, our gut bacteria, history of being breast fed, stress, depression, and environmental toxins. I’m going to discuss sleep and its relation to obesity, as that is the first question I ask my patients when “to much of them” is present. For the vast percentage of the population, ideal sleep includes 7 to 8.5-9 hours a night. About 1/3 of the U.S. population suffers from insomnia sometime during their lifetime, and in 2000 The National Sleep Foundation reported that at least 45% of adolescents in the U.S. obtained “inadequate sleep”. In a study done some years ago, the researchers reported that people who slept 4 hours or less had a 73% increased risk for obesity as compared to those sleeping 7-8 hours. Those sleeping 5 hours had a 40% increased risk for obesity as compared to those sleeping 7-8 hours, and those individuals reporting sleeping 6 hours nightly, had a 23% increased risk for obesity as compared to those reporting 7-8 hours nightly. When we are sleep deprived, our blood levels of leptin (one of the “I’m full hormones” go down) and blood levels of Gherlin (a “I’m hungry hormone” go up). As a result, we may eat as much as 350-400 calories more each day! Remember, 100 extra calories per day equals 10 pounds per year of unwanted weight gain! For a number of reasons, I’m NOT a fan of using marijuana. Here is another reason to NOT begin or if you are using, stop: marijuana use is associated with eating when you are NOT hungry. In a separate “discussion”, I will list Dr. Steve’s “easy” ways to achieve your ideal weight, which will give you an increased opportunity to have your Health Span = your Live Span.