All Entries For obesity

How Can We Cut 64 Calories a Day From Kids' Diets?

Many things have changed since 1971. Back then, there were no cell phones, personal computers, or the internet. There was also no satellite TV, music came from 45 records or albums, and you couldn't find online dining guides to make wise choices for the rare occasion when you would eat away from home. What has also changed is the rate of obesity in young people.
Researchers have recently analyzed historical height and weight data from 1971 to 2008 for U.S. children between the ages of two and 19. Evaluating the trends during that time led researchers to project an increase in childhood obesity to 21 percent by the year 2020 compared to today's rate of almost 17 percent. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services wants to see the obesity rate decline to 14.6 percent instead.
Unfortunately, since so many Americans are overweight, many parents have a hard time taking a good look at their children's weight. A new study estimates children need to begin creating a 64 calorie energy gap (aka calories in vs. calories out) each day through diet and/or exercise to reach the 2020 childhood obesity goals. Here are some substitution ideas to cut these calories through diet.
Posted 6/4/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 16 comments   10,188 views
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Poll: Have Your Children Lost Weight Along With You?

When you decide to start making healthy changes in your life, you probably start at home.  Common changes include getting junk food out of the house or replacing an evening T.V. show with an evening walk.  You might be the only one in the house who’s formally committed to the change, but that doesn’t mean that everyone else doesn’t benefit from it.  If you cook the meals, maybe you start making healthier dishes instead of opting for fast food a few nights a week.  And it’s easy to ask for company on your nightly walk, so soon it becomes a family event. 
In many households, it’s not just one family member who has weight issues.  Years of unhealthy habits can create weight problems for everyone, young and old.  If you’ve got a child in your house who has weight issues, it’s likely very stressful to try and figure out how to help.  How do you make eating healthy and exercising fun, to create habits that they can carry on for the rest of their lives?  According to a new study, the best strategy could be leading by example. 
Posted 4/10/2012  6:00:00 PM By: Jen Mueller : 15 comments   12,877 views
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Ask Dr. Birdie: Straight Talk about Binge Eating

This journey to a healthy lifestyle is a worthwhile, but at times, difficult endeavor. If you're dealing with an eating disorder on top of a weight issue, it can feel downright impossible to reach your goals.

Most of us are familiar with the eating disorders anorexia and bulimia, but I would like to focus on an eating disorder that is actually more common.  This diagnosis is rarely discussed on diet and exercise blogs and not given the attention that it deserves, which is not surprising.  After all, eating disorders are typically suffered in secret.   

What am I talking about?  Binge eating disorder

Let's discuss this medical condition in detail so that you can understand the diagnosis, and, if you think you are affected, you can seek the help that you need.   
Posted 3/27/2012  6:00:00 PM By: Birdie Varnedore, M.D. : 40 comments   19,994 views
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Cool Infographic: How Kids Consume Food Marketing

As some of you may remember, Coach Tanya recently blogged about how First Lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack joined celebrity chef Rachael Ray and announced last month that there will be changes to the school lunch program. To help support these new nutritional standards in schools, has created and shared the following infographic with statistics that share lifestyle, consumption, and media activity relating to children, which contribute to obesity in childhood (and for some, into adulthood).

Posted 2/16/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Denise Tausig : 22 comments   14,786 views
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The Health Benefits of Losing Just 10% of Your Body Weight

It's now the second week of January, so let's check in: How are you doing with your weight loss or maintenance goals?  

Many of you are just starting on the road to a new lifestyle.  Welcome!  I’m sure you have an abundance of motivation and willpower, and I hope that you use this powerful force to learn and integrate the SparkPeople principles early and successfully! 

Many of you are like me, and you're recommitting to your goals. You might be struggling to find your way back to consistency and balance.  Kudos to you for never giving up and accepting that we are in it to win it! 

Whether you're new to SparkPeople or are a veteran, some of us are feeling burned out and are thinking about giving up. We are here to look for a "spark" that will start a fire.  I hope that you will decide not to take a break (learn the consequences of taking even a short break) and will keep working on it until you find success. 

Rather than delve into motivation or secrets of success, let's back up a bit, and ask another question: Why lose weight?

While your reason(s) for losing weight and maintaining that weight loss are as unique as you are, there are a few reasons that many of us share. Among them: to improve one’s health.  I know it was on my "reasons to lose weight" list. 

If you already carry the diagnosis of an obesity-related medical condition, such as high cholesterol, hypertension or diabetes, that knowledge alone can be a great source of motivation and willpower.  But, what about the relatively healthy overweight person who wants to lose weight for "health reasons," but doesn’t really know yet what "better health" means?  Losing weight for the sake of your health (as compared with aesthetic motivations) is a socially acceptable reason to lose weight, but other than doing the right thing, do you know why you added it to the list? Do you know will your health improve when you lose weight? Do you know how much weight you need to lose to start to improve your health?

Posted 1/11/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Birdie Varnedore, M.D. : 58 comments   41,545 views
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The First Day I Decided to Live Again

I reach
Through beams of dusty light
Falling to the earth
Through all of their prisms and geometry
Past the wind that dances on my skin...
And I want to know
Am I the only one who sees it?
Here, right now?
In this frozen moment of time?
There is something so mystical about the ordinary.
How could I have missed it yesterday?
The ordinary, that’s the beginning of change. 
Bedridden at 460 pounds, I had become very complacent. After all, there was nothing I could do, I thought.  Getting out of bed and rejoining the world seemed to be an immense journey that would take years and willpower that I just didn’t have.  I got tired and depressed just thinking about trying to get out of my situation.
The day I decided to live was not some miraculous moment in time.  It was a “Why the heck not try this since I’ve tried everything else” kind of moment.  Amazingly enough, the tips from Dr. Oz’s book, YOU on a Diet and SparkPeople taught me to take things slowly and work with my body instead of against it.
I had to learn to take things slowly, work smarter, not harder, and change up my life to include more than food.  This was crucial!  My days consisted of staying in bed eating and doing anything I could from there.  That’s a small world.  The chronic pain didn’t help.  Somehow I had to reach beyond that and find friends and support, which I found on SparkPeople.  This gave me courage to reach out in the real world.
Posted 11/18/2011  11:00:00 AM By: Beth Donovan : 74 comments   12,352 views
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The Highs and Lows of Losing 100 Pounds

Editor's Note (Nicole Nichols): I had the pleasure of meeting Kenlie at the IDEA fitness convention in L.A. this past August. As I learned more about her, I was so inspired by her accomplishments and how she turned what was a very difficult and embarrassing situation into something positive. I wanted to share her story with all of you, so I asked Kenlie to write a guest blog. I hope you find it as real and motivational as I did.
By Kenlie Tiggeman
I used to dread simple tasks like going to the grocery store and walking to the mailbox.   I was constantly overwhelmed with anxiety when I knew I'd have to ride in someone else's car, so I avoided it as much as possible.  I bought two plane tickets for every flight I had to take because I knew that one seat wouldn't be enough for me, and I felt shame every time I had to walk back into a rental car company to upgrade because I couldn't fit into a mid-size car.  But that shame was mild in comparison to shame I felt when the weight of my body broke the driver's seat of my own car.  
I know it's my own fault that my small frame grew to almost 400 pounds. I was disgusted with myself—disgusted with the fact that I couldn't go to dinner without asking for a table instead of a booth because it was obvious that I wouldn't fit into the latter.  My life, which was so good in some ways, was completely overshadowed by my body.  And while people looked at me in disgust, no one was more repulsed by me than I was.  
So I changed my ways and lost 100 pounds. Losing it made everything in my life easier and more fun.  I was happier than I had ever been! But in reality, 100 pounds down is just the tip of the iceberg for me—I'm still obese.
If you saw me walking down the street (or in an airport terminal), you wouldn't know all that I've accomplished in my journey so far. You wouldn't know that I work out five days a week (sometimes more) and eat mostly healthy, unprocessed foods. You wouldn't know that I'm down 10 clothing sizes or that I can jog up several flights of stairs before I break a sweat. That I can swim over a mile and a half without thinking about taking a break, or that I have killer good balance. You wouldn't know any of these things by looking at me now.
Instead, if you saw me, you’d probably assume that I watch TV every day for hours on end. You certainly wouldn’t guess that I’m training for a triathlon or that I love climbing stairs and sweating it out on the elliptical.  Maybe you’d judge me or pity me or ignore me, or maybe you’d single me out in a crowd and tell me that I’m too fat.
Okay, so SparkPeople members are clearly too awesome to think things like that, but it happens.  In fact, all of these things have happened to me even after experiencing weight loss in the triple digits.
Posted 11/11/2011  6:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 191 comments   96,299 views
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News Flash: Maintaining Weight Loss is Hard (There's Proof--and Hope!)

It’s not your fault you can’t keep the weight off!

I recently got a call from my mother who told me, “I just saw something on the news about why it’s hard to maintain weight loss! I know you’ve been struggling, so will you find it and check it out?”  I told her I saw something about it already and thanks for checking in on me.  I had seen various headlines with similar titles such as “It’s not your fault that you can’t keep the weight off!”  I briefly checked them out and thought, “That doesn’t help me!” and moved on with my day.  But, later on I was thinking about the messages these headlines sent to the millions of hopeful but overweight people of America.  

Seeing a headline like that telling me, “You now have an excuse for gaining back your weight loss!” makes me cringe.  Here I am, trying to maintain a greater than 100-pound weight loss and now I’m hearing that my body is trying to sabotage my efforts?  I will get back to my take on the news after I tell you a little bit about the study
Posted 11/1/2011  6:00:00 PM By: Birdie Varnedore, M.D. : 65 comments   16,802 views
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I Lost 150+ Pounds--and I Didn't Give Up

Many of you asked me why I never gave up, how I lost this weight, and why I s
I try to fight the good fight against my ill health with intensity and fire now.  LOL!  No.  Actually I fight against my ill health one choice at a time.  I used to fight with fire and intensity, but I always burned out and gave up, calling myself a failure once again.
It all started very simply with one change at a time.  As I got used to the change, I changed something else.  For example, I made a rule for myself to eat from small plates when they were available.  Then when I got used to that I began ordering small instead of large and sharing meals at restaurants.  1% organic milk became a staple grocery item, and then I added more whole grain products, fiber, lean protein, and fruits and vegetables.  One of my favorite sources of healthy fat became spray canola, olive, or sunflower oil. 
Posted 10/21/2011  10:00:00 AM By: Beth Donovan : 205 comments   26,424 views
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Could Gratitude Be the Key to Weight Loss?

Did you ever stop to think how "More" centered the world is getting. It's getting pretty selfish. They say in addiction studies that when your brain says "I want more___," that is usually your addict talking. Think about it really. If food were a drug, and some do compare it to one, that would explain why we cannot stop eating MORE until something is gone. Personally, I listen to that voice, the "more" voice. If I hear it, I say "You're the addict! You WANT me to eat more." I then get away from the food as if it is toxic. Eating less becomes easier from that standpoint. I'm not here to argue food addiction with anyone. I'm just telling you a little trick that helps me.
More of everything is available and we seem to want it all.  I love this line from a Sheryl Crow song: "Happiness isn't getting what you want; it's wanting what you've got." 

I think if we were grateful for the blessing we do have in our lives, we would be more fulfilled and less "hungry."  We crave newer and better things and experiences, and there is nothing wrong with that sometimes.  It's when we can't have it and placate our boredom with food that we get in trouble.
Posted 10/14/2011  10:00:00 AM By: Beth Donovan : 73 comments   16,654 views
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The Skin Condition That's a Dark Sign of What's to Come

Before I started medical school, I noticed something strange about the skin of some of my family members, the ones who were overweight or obese, like I was then.
Various folds of skin--on the neck, arms, and legs, among other places--I noticed their skin was darker and thicker. It didn't look the same as the rest of their bodies. I wondered what it was, what caused it--and whether I would also get it.
This dark, leathery skin is quite common, and you may even have this condition yourself. You might have brushed it off as a skin imperfection and thought that there was nothing that you could do about it. Would you believe that this condition can lead you to the diagnosis of medical disease?
Before we talk about what it can help diagnose, let's talk about motivation, one of my favorite topics. In my opinion it doesn’t really matter where your initial motivation for weight loss comes from. Vanity, a desire to fit in, trying to find a partner, hoping to get a better job--all of these reasons are fine.  But, these are “extrinsic motivators.”  What happens when you lose the weight and you meet these goals? What is going to keep you coming back?  Educating yourself about the effects of obesity is one tool that you can use to prove to yourself that the lifestyle changes are worth it, that you must be willing to stick to it for the long haul. 
One of the best things that you can to do to keep yourself coming back to SparkPeople (and reaching your goals) is to do things that motivate you and will withstand the test of time, such as your health.  So, I hope that you will take a moment to learn about something that you may have never heard of and something that may inspire you to continue reach towards and meet your goals. 
Let's let acanthosis nigricans, that skin change I mentioned earlier, be one of those motivators.  
Posted 9/27/2011  2:00:00 PM By: Birdie Varnedore, M.D. : 46 comments   97,652 views
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How to the Weather Life's Storms

Tea and sympathy, not cake and apathy.
Have you ever had one of those days, weeks, or years, when everything that can go wrong does?  I’m going through that storm now.  I’ve recently lost two pets, a cat and a bunny; a close friend passed on as well. I’ve had hives for three going on four weeks, prednisone shots and pills, both cars of our cars broke down at once… and the list goes on. 
In the old days, I would say “To heck with it! I DESERVE to eat whatever I want!”  While, I still do indulge upon occasion, I plan for it and do sometimes go over.  I’ve found that in the middle of so many uncontrollable things in life, the one thing I CAN control is my program to get healthier.  It’s mine!  Nobody is going to mess with it.
Yes, I DESERVE to be healthier.  Let’s face it. In a whirlwind, you need something to hang onto, and SparkPeople is that for me.  I’m not talking about a website.  I’m talking about you there, reading this.  I’m talking about the community we have. We care for each other. I’m also talking about our common goal of getting in better shape by exercise and eating healthier. 
We all have bad days, but we are bound together by a common cause and a common goal.  We want to be healthier.  We want to believe. 
Posted 9/23/2011  12:00:00 PM By: Beth Donovan : 103 comments   16,419 views
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Pet Obesity: A Growing Trend

As obesity has risen over the years, the waistlines of our pets have unfortunately followed that trend as well. While we are in charge of our own journey to a healthy lifestyle, our pets don’t have that choice. We are in charge of what and how often they eat, along with what types of exercise they get and how often.

According to this study in The Wall Street Journal, the main culprit of overweight pets are “owners who routinely overfeed pets, don't exercise them enough and are unaware of the severe, and costly, health problems caused by excess weight. Common woes include diabetes, arthritis, kidney failure, high blood pressure and cancer.” Wait...aren't those some of the same problems that we face due to excess weight?

If you have visited my SparkPage, you may have noticed that I am an animal lover. I currently have 3 cats and a 10 month old puppy. Over time and even more recently I have seen some very overweight pets, even right here in my neighborhood. While I may not be the perfect pet parent, I am always doing what I can to make sure that none of my fur-babies become a statistic of having any complications of being overweight.
Posted 9/16/2011  10:00:00 AM By: Denise Tausig : 51 comments   12,377 views
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Health and Fitness Resources for Kids

September marks National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. In a blog I wrote last year on this topic, the statistics were and continue to be quite staggering with an estimated 30 percent of all children born after the year 2000 slated to develop type II diabetes, heart disease, cancer and asthma.  And while it would be easy to turn a blind's eye to this epidemic, eventually we will all bear the cost of increase medical care and insurance premiums for these kids if parents do not take an active role in changing the course our kids are on.

With many schools limiting physical education classes, or in some cases eliminating them altogether, many kids do not even meet the minimum requirement of physical activity on a daily basis to achieve fitness benefits. As Dr. Birdie Varnedore mentioned in her recent blog, we are meant to move and that includes kids as well.
Posted 9/13/2011  6:00:00 AM By: Nancy Howard : 9 comments   10,488 views
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Don’t Tell Me What I Can’t Do!

I love the saying from the television series Lost that character John Locke always repeats, "Don’t tell me what I can’t do!"  I think that’s part of where I got that attitude from.  That saying just clicked with me.  I think it’s because I was told that I wouldn’t and I couldn’t by so many, but then I did! 
What did I do?  I, and believe me this is a miracle, lost 150 pounds and went from bedridden to able to walk a bit, longer with a walker.  The pain is still frightful; however, where there is a will there is a way.  You should always discuss your pain with your doctor.  Even if they are less than receptive, they need to hear your needs.  If at any time you are told "Just lose weight," ask them how to deal with that when you can barely move.  If you’re dismissed as a whiner, find another doctor!  There are medicines, physical therapy, and other tools available to you to help you through the pain so that you can move.  There are even assistive devices, like canes, walkers, shower benches, heavyweight lifestyle websites, among other things to get you up and moving.
Posted 9/6/2011  2:00:00 PM By: Beth Donovan : 72 comments   13,982 views
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