2009-10-16 / Community

SJEH Hosts Healthy Hearts For Kids

St. John's Episcopal Hospital will be holding a meeting of the Healthy Hearts for Kids Support Group on October 21 from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the Hemodialysis Conference Room on the ground floor, located at 327 Beach 19 Street. Children must be accompanied by their caregivers.

The percentage of overweight children in the United States is growing at an alarming rate, with one out of three kids now considered overweight or obese. St. John's Episcopal Hospital designed Healthy Hearts for Kids to teach children and their parents how to make healthier life - style choices. Both a nutritionist and a pediatrician host this support group to address prevention techniques, as well as smarter eating habits and the importance of physical activity.

In our present society, more children are spending less time exercising and more time in front of the TV, computer, or video-game console. In addition, busy parents can't find the time to prepare nutritious meals on a daily basis. The American Heart Association re ported that about 25 million kids and teens in the U.S. are overweight or at risk of becoming overweight.

There are various factors that contribute to becoming overweight, which include genetics and lifestyle habits. Genes help determine body type and how your body stores and burns fat just like they help determine other traits; but genes are not responsible for the obesity epidemic. In some instances, endocrine problems, genetic syndromes, and medications can be associated with excessive weight gain.

Educational institutions play a big part in childhood obesity and in overweight children. There's little to no access to healthy food and physical activity is disappearing. Foods offer - ed in school vending machines are often of little nutritional value and can be loaded with fats, sugars, salt and ex cess calories. Un for tun ate ly, 92 percent of elementary sch ools do not have daily physical education classes year-round and one out of three high school students takes daily physical education classes.

Being overweight or out of shape makes the heart work harder.

Overweight children are more likely to grow up to be overweight adults and more likely to develop heart problems. Obesity increases the risk for serious health conditions like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol — all once considered exclusively adult diseases.

Overweight and obese children are also more prone to depression and low self-esteem issues contributed to by social alienation.

The best place to start healthy living is at home. Each day, you can do little things that can affect your child's heal th in a big way, such as making healthy eating and exercise a family affair. If you are concerned that your child may be overweight please consult your doctor.

For more information about Heal - thy Hearts for Kids please call 718- 869-8200.

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