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Fun and Fit: Combating Childhood Obesity

Athlete and speaker Sarah Stanley will visit Mountain View School this week to encourage students to embrace an active lifestyle

In the past 20 years, obesity has more than doubled worldwide. It now kills more people than being underweight. In other words, more people are dying from eating too much than from starving! In 2010, nearly 45 million children younger than age 5 were overweight.

In 2008, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 18 percent of teens, 25 percent of children ages 6 to 11, and 10 percent of 2- to 5-year-olds were obese — all this from something that is 100 percent preventable!

The complications and consequences of childhood obesity are fairly dire: Pediatric metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions that include elevated blood pressure and insulin levels, body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels that can increase the risk of stroke, diabetes and heart disease. Basically unheard of in children a few years ago, pediatric metabolic syndrome is now routinely diagnosed.

Diabetes was formerly known as “adult-onset diabetes,” but its name was changed to Type 2 diabetes because of the frequency in which it shows up in overweight children. In addition to diabetes, obese children are at increased risk for cancer, and mobility and the ability to perform routine tasks of daily living decrease.

And, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, children who are at or above the 99th percentile for weight are regularly diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts.

A combination of healthy food, active lifestyles, community information, prevention and early intervention services, and a strong sport and recreation infrastructure are the keys to reversing these alarming statistics that represent real children. To help the children of today, it’s important to take action today.

In an effort to highlight the issue and help show kids how much fun a healthy lifestyle can be, Sarah Stanley will visit Mountain View School’s fourth-graders Friday as a stop on her 600-mile bike ride to San Diego from San Francisco.

Partnering with Kids on Bikes, Stanley is an ultra athlete who is celebrating her birthday by doing this bike ride to encourage kids of all ages to embrace an active life. In 2010, she rode to New York from Washington, D.C., (more than 300 miles) with the same message about combating childhood obesity. “How can the next generation lead us if we don’t set an example today?” she asks.

As part of her chat with the students, Stanley will share some practical, achievable steps they can take (along with their parents) to increase their health, as well as her story about using physical activity during her teen years as a positive outlet. After her talk, Stanley will hop on her bike and be on her way to Los Angeles and San Diego. Click here to follow her bike adventures.

— Identical twins and fitness pros Kymberly Williams-Evans and Alexandra Williams have been in the fitness industry since the first aerobics studio opened on the European continent. They teach, write, edit, emcee and present their programs worldwide on land, sea and airwaves. They co-write Fun and Fit: Q and A with K and A. You can currently find them in action leading classes in Santa Barbara and Goleta. Kymberly is the former faculty minor adviser at UCSB for its fitness instruction degree offered through the Department of Exercise & Sport Studies; Alexandra serves as an instructor and master teacher for the program. Fun and Fit answers real questions from real people, so please send your comments and questions to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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