Is Your Child a Health Statistic? 4 Scary Facts, 8 Real Solutions

America’s children are fighting for their lives:

  • Twenty to 30 percent of American children are either overweight or at risk of becoming overweight. If current trends continue, that number will top 50 percent by 2030.

  • Type 2 Diabetes in children, historically unheard of, is up 45% in the last 10 years.

  • Diagnoses of ADD and ADHD have increased by 9 million new cases in the last 10 years.

  • Autism has increased 600 percent in the past four years.

“Think about it; you’re building something from scratch,” says Jeff Bradstreet, M.D., founder of the International Children Development Resource Center in Florida. “You take a little baby out of the womb and you have to construct a whole, big person from that little tiny person. What is that little person going to be made of?”

Reclaim your power over the numbers

As frightening as these statistics may be, Dr. Bradstreet sees a different set of numbers ahead for parents and children who make simple lifestyle changes.

Dr. Bradstreet’s research has linked these diseases to manageable issues such as diet, digestion, toxins, overmedication and home environment. He and other health professionals offer parents these tools for building healthier futures for their kids — tools that can also help them be happier and more fun to be with today.

Change what goes in

Dr. Bradstreet’s research offers new validation of the fact that simple, relatively painless dietary changes can make a dramatic difference in your child’s short-term and long-term health, as well as their daily mood and demeanor.

  • Cut the sugar. The average American child today consumes 21 to 23 teaspoons of added sugar every day. Cut down on foods high in sucrose and corn syrup — such as candies and cereals, soft drinks and ketchup. Balance high-carbohydrate foods with high-protein and high-fiber foods; opt for whole-grain versions of breads, cereals, crackers; and take note of the “Sugars” content on labels at the grocery store. Also, consider trying healthier alternatives to cane sugar — both on the table and in recipes; two increasingly popular options to try are stevia and brown rice syrup.

  • Support digestion. The average child today has received nine doses of antibiotics by the age of 12 months. Antibiotics, while they destroy foreign bacteria, also destroy the body’s “good” bacteria that help it utilize nutrients. Be sure your children’s diets include regular servings of good-bacteria-promoting foods such as yogurt, and ask your doctor about his or her use of antibiotic therapies for common kids’ ailments.

  • Watch for food sensitivities. Foods like wheat and milk are common culprits for food allergies and sensitivities, which can show up in mood and behavior long before a rash appears.

Keep it moving

  • Get physical. Between television, computers and video games, kids sit a lot. Physical exercise is crucial to physical, mental and emotional well-being. When kids can’t sit still, it might just mean they need to move. Move with them! A fun way to get moving together is with a kid-size fitness ball plus a grown-up version for you.

  • Raise your TV IQ. “As early as 1988, 96 percent of morning cartoon advertisements were for foods researched as unhealthy,” says naturopathic physician Decker Weiss, N.M.D. Try a kids’ fitness video for a new Saturday morning ritual.

  • Create family time. Replace just one hour of television with an hour of family yoga at the end of each day, and enjoy the quiet together.

Weiss points the finger: “Working with the parents is monumental. The kids cannot get well if the parents are sick.”

Clear the decks

  • Explore alternatives to prescription medications. “The average American child takes three prescriptions per year, and 1.5 million children take Ritalin every single day,” says Weiss. Consider consulting health professionals trained in both Western treatment approaches and complementary or alternative medicine.

  • Understand and eliminate toxins. The human body is resilient, but not invulnerable. Certain substances — natural and man-made — are toxic to adults, and even more so to children’s developing bodies. In addition to eating organic foods, you can choose health- and eco-friendly household cleaners, natural pest control, and take charge of your home’s clean air and water.


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