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How This New Trend Is Helping Make Your Kids Lean And Healthy

Nov. 11, 2015|992 views
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Yesterday I reported on new research, published in the influential Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), which concluded that time spent playing outdoors is linked to a lower risk of developing myopia among young children. That announcement followed on the heels of other news this week: Investigators in Finland have shown that processes linked to the development of potentially deadly heart disease begin as early as 6 years of age among obese and sedentary children.

Are you beginning to see a pattern here? I know I am, especially after learning of yet another study, which has concluded that access to green space is a crucial factor that can affect children’s future risk of becoming obese. And, as I just noted, childhood obesity has been shown to engender disease processes linked to heart disease. What a vicious cycle.

The ability to spend time playing out-of-doors, in nature, was a common thread in all three of these news stories. Take away that opportunity and you get fat, inactive kids. And disease. Poor eyesight, even. I suppose this should come as no surprise. It’s common sense, after all. Kids need to run and play and spend time in fresh air and sunshine. Our mothers knew this. Our own children probably know it intuitively. It’s in their nature to want to spend time outside. Why have so many of us forgotten it?

The latest research emerged from the United Kingdom, where investigators studied the habits and health of more than 6,000 children. In essence, they concluded, lack of access to a “garden” (what we would simply call a “yard” in the United States) at ages 3-5 is linked to an increased risk of developing obesity by the tender age of 7. Experts note that overweight and obesity are distinct risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes. And of course, there’s that evidence of early heart disease, noted by Finnish researchers earlier this week.

"Not having access to a garden at age 3 -- 5 years for lower educated households increased childhood overweight/obesity at age 7 years. Also the combination of a more disadvantaged neighborhood and higher education increased childhood overweight/obesity. To conclude, we showed that limits on access to outdoor space is associated with future childhood overweight/obesity although moderated by education level. More research is needed to see how we can deploy these findings in the prevention of type 2 diabetes,” the study’s authors wrote.

Diabetologia. "Having no garden access for young children linked to childhood obesity later in childhood, English study shows." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 September 2015. .


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