Childhood obesity in may put a quarter of Spanish children from ages 6-12 at risk for developing what is typically considered a middle aged person’s illness: metabolic syndrome.
In a research study conducted by department chair Ángel Gil Hernández, of the Institute of Food Nutrition and Technology of the University of Granada, 17% of Spanish children with obesity also have hypertension, which is part of metabolic syndrome (MetS). Hernández cautions that metabolic syndrome is also linked to insulin resistance, and, in the long term, type 2 diabetes.
Around the globe, poor nutrition and lack of physical activity are the leading causes of childhood obesity. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 16 percent of American children (over 9 million) 6-19 years old are overweight or obese — a number that has tripled since 1980. In addition to the 16 percent of children and teens ages 6 to 19 who were overweight in 1999-2002, another 15 percent were considered at risk of becoming overweight. (“Prevalence of Overweight and Obesity Among Children and Adolescents: United States, 1999-2002”; Oct. 6, 2004
“Contrary to what most parents believe”, affirms the university chair, “physical exercise is the key to combat obesity, child or adult: we could say that, along with the genetic predisposition, 70% of our figures are owed to exercise and only the remaining 30% correspond to diet”.
A Spanish adage, adds Hernández, says that the secret of a good diet is “a little food and lots of foot”.