Health Tips: Kids’ excess weight is causing serious health problems

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An American Psychological Association survey reported that 42% of U.S. adults gained around 29 pounds in the first year of the pandemic. So it’s not surprising that the percentage of obese children and teens jumped from 19% to 22% percent over the same time period, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That cannot become the new normal -- it’s far too damaging to young people’s health, today and tomorrow.

According to researchers from the University of Georgia, kids’ excess visceral belly fat infiltrates organs and causes arterial stiffness. That sets them up for everything from high blood pressure to premature heart attacks and strokes, impotence, decreased cognition and increased risk of mental health conditions. In their study of 600 kids, published in Pediatric Obesity, the researchers concluded: The more belly fat, the more damage to the circulatory system. Plus, the researchers found that 145 of the kids had already been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, a fast train to even more cardio-damage. As one of the researchers explains, “[Type 2 diabetes] is a very pervasive, scary condition in youth, even more so than in adults. Many body systems tend to degrade at a more accelerated rate if the disease occurs during the growing years. This disease attacks the brain, the kidneys, the bones, the liver.”

So, if your child is obese, talk with your pediatrician, consult a nutritionist, start a family exercise program, and make sure you’re eliminating processed and red meats and dishing up plant-based meals without any added sugar, sat or trans fats. 

Chew this over: Gum disease can trigger mental illness

The boar’s bristle toothbrush was invented in China in 1498. Stiff coarse hairs from a hog’s neck were used to clean teeth until 1938, when nylon bristles were introduced as Doctor West’s Miracle Toothbrush. Floss was mass marketed much earlier -- Johnson & Johnson first sold dental floss in 1896.

Despite a long history of teeth- and gum-saving products being available, around 40% of adults age 30 and up in the U.S. have periodontitis -- advanced gum disease that is associated with stroke, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, dementia and problems in pregnancy. Now research in the journal BMJ Open has found that over the course of around three years, folks who are diagnosed with periodontal disease are also at a 37% increased risk of developing anxiety, a 29% increase in depression risk and significant increased risk of other serious mental illnesses.

On top of that, their risk of developing cardiovascular disease goes up 18%, and the risk for Type 2 diabetes rockets up by 26%, and the risk of developing autoimmune disease was increased by 33%. 

Clearly, to protect your mental and physical health you need to brush two to three times a day, floss daily and see your dentists for checkups and cleanings as recommended (minimum twice a year). Psst! Don’t use coated floss -- it may have PFAs on it, those carcinogenic chemicals that have been linked to kidney and testicular cancer, decreased semen quality and ulcerative colitis in adults and thyroid disease and lowered sex and growth hormones in children.

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