For years, doctors, nutritionists, and anyone with a calculator have been using a mathematical formula called Body Mass Index (BMI) to determine whether someone is overweight or not. BMI does a pretty good job of determining whether or not you’re obese, and since obesity is known to play a major role in one’s health and […]
We all know that being obese increases your risk of developing all sorts of potentially deadly health conditions, including blood clots, diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, and more. Most people think that those risks might reduce your lifespan by a few years—apparently not enough to shock overweight and obese people into changing their behavior. But new [...]
It seems that whenever people talk about obesity, the topic of kids’ screen time comes up. And while it’s certainly possible that there’s a connection between a child’s weight and how much time he or she spends watching TV and playing video games, some fascinating research is finding that technology—as long as it’s the right kind—might also help kids combat obesity and better manage their weight. If you’ve ever played one of the sports games on XBox/Kinect, you know just how sweaty video games can get you. Here are three examples of how this works:
Dear Mr. Dad: As a child, my son used to be quite a bit overweight—his pediatrician said he was borderline obese. About a year ago, though, he started losing weight. He looked great and seemed happier with himself. But he kept on losing weight, long after he needed to. Thinking he might be ill, we took him to the doctor who couldn’t find any medial issues. After another few months, he was absolutely emaciated. His pediatrician did a bunch of tests but still couldn’t find anything wrong. The daughter of some good friends of ours had anorexia and was in a treatment facility for a while. I asked the doctor whether our son could possibly have an eating disorder but he said boys don’t get it. Is he right?
A: Might be time for a new pediatrician. Even though we think of eating disorders as affecting only girls, the fact is that about a third of the country’s 30-million people who suffer from one are male. Unfortunately, there are a number of issues that make it very difficult for these boys and young men to get the help they desperately need. First, most medical professionals—like your son’s pediatrician—don’t even consider it. Even mental health professionals, who really should know better, have a tough time acknowledging it. The American Psychiatric Association, for example, has a nice section on its website devoted to eating disorders, but if you look at the list of symptoms of anorexia, the first one is “Menstrual periods cease.” So, almost by definition, there’s no way a boy could possibly be anorexic. The second symptom—“Osteopenia or osteoporosis (thinning of the bones) through loss of calcium”—is yet another condition that’s generally considered to be a women’s condition.
Dear Mr. Dad: My 9-year old son is sports obsessed and quite athletic. He’s involved in one sport or another all year long, and he recently told my wife and me that he wants to start lifting weights. Is it safe for kids that young to do weight training?
A: When I was about your son’s age, there were two things I really wanted to do: lift weights and throw a curve ball. I was told that both activities would do serious, irreparable, long-term damage: that throwing curves would strain my elbow and destroy my joints, and that lifting weights would stunt my growth. Several decades later, conventional wisdom has changed on both fronts. Curve balls, researchers now say, aren’t dangerous—but they aren’t necessarily safe either. More about the curve in a future column. But when it comes to kids pumping iron, there’s been a 180-degree change.