Are Your Kids Really Healthy?

 Many people have the attitude that if you are young and not sick then you are healthy. Not so. There is a vast difference from being optimally healthy, functioning at your highest level, to simply being free of gross disease. Unfortunately, many young people, especially those with too much body fat, are unaware that they are on the road to chronic illness.

Many already suffer from sleep apnea, GERD, fatigue, mood disturbances and a whole host of other symptoms that should not happen when one is optimally healthy. 

A recent report from an NIH funded study found that 19% of young people ages 24 to 32 had hypertension (high blood pressure). Previous rates of hypertension in this age group from NHANES data found 4%. Whatever the real number, we know looks and youth can be deceiving. With the current rates of overweight and obesity among all age groups it stands to reason the many, including young kids and young adults, have silent risk factors that are overlooked simply because they are young and not yet feeling sick.

Other reasons risk factors go undetected include poor or no health insurance or doctors who simply do not extensively evaluate children who are over-fat. There is also the attitude, especially among young men, that because they are young, they are healthy. They simply donít go to doctors. Preventive medicine just isnít on their radar screen.

It is a sad commentary that the military has to turn away many volunteers because they are out of shape and over-fat. With an all volunteer military that has significant implications for our countryís future.

Further, studies show that overweight moms donít realistically see their kids as overweight; they see themselves as well as their kids as normal.

Keep in mind that many risk factors that eventually cause us to get sick later in life start early in life. Autopsies done on young men killed in war find plaque in their young arteries.

Illness Begins Silently 

Many health risks are often silent. There are no symptoms until the body has already been damaged. High blood pressure is just one of these silent killers. Others are diabetes and inflammation, thought to be the underlying cause of cardiovascular disease and other serious illnesses. Other common risk factors, prevalent in those with excess body fat, are disturbed lipids especially an unhealthy triglyceride/ HDL ratio and high insulin and blood sugar levels.

Many doctors are putting kids on statins even though they have never been studied in the young. Since cholesterol is so important in the body how do we know the impact of lowering cholesterol in this still-developing group? We donít. 

Old Age Diseases in the Young

 In the last ten years more and more young people are having strokes. Strokes were once a condition that generally did not occur until old age. Untreated high blood pressure in young people is a likely cause. Obesity, unhealthy lifestyle, chronic stress with no stress management skills likely contribute.

 Obese young people are developing NAFLD (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease) that can lead to hepatitis, cirrhosis, fibrosis and ultimately liver failure requiring transplant. 

 High Insulin Levels Can Kill

 Nutrition experts talk about limiting salt to avoid high blood pressure. They donít tell you that salt intake negatively impacts less the 50% of us. A more likely cause of high blood pressure is high levels of insulin following a high intake of carbs: The same underlying imbalance that leads to storing too much body fat and type 2 diabetes. Hyperinsulinemia is common in those who are over-fat especially if there is a family history of diabetes.  

Exposure to high levels of insulin and insulin-like growth factor is thought to play a role in the development of a variety of cancers. That is one reason why people with obesity and type 2 diabetes have a greater incidence of cancer.

 Our Frightening Future

Imagine what will happen 10 to 20 years down the road when todayís unhealthy kids and young adults have silently damaged their bodies long enough for serious illnesses to assert themselves. Instead of chronically ill 50 or 60 year olds we will be dealing with chronically ill 30 or 40 year olds. The US will experience significantly higher stress on our healthcare system. Not only will we have the burden of a sicker and younger population but more disability and poorer quality of life for those who are ill. There will be less productivity in our workforce, more expensive insurance costs and certainly increasing rates of type 2 diabetes with its debilitating complications.

 This is not a pretty future especially since we already have a broken healthcare delivery system. It is time to stand up and be responsible for ourselves and our families, face facts and make changes. Maintaining optimum health as we age requires a commitment and some work. It is never too early to do this. Since kids canít do it on their own it is up to the parents and grandparents to be the responsible ones and take charge. Your kidsí health now and in the future depends on it. 

Many chronic illnesses such as type 2 diabetes and many cancers are preventable. Prevention costs a lot less than treatment. Make the needed lifestyle changes now no matter the age.

 

The information presented on this site is in no way intended as medical advice or as a substitute for medical treatment. This information should be used in conjunction with the guidance and care of your physician. Consult your physician before beginning this program as you would any weight-loss or weight-maintenance program.  Those of you on diuretics or diabetes medication should proceed only under a doctorís supervision as changing your diet usually requires a change in medication dosages. As with any plan, the weight-loss phases of this program should not be used by patients on dialysis or by pregnant or nursing women. As with any weight-loss plan, we recommend anyone under the age of 18 follow the program under the guidance of their physician.