What’s Really Causing the Childhood Obesity Epidemic?

bully prevention starts with knowledge of bullying behavior
Physical Health

A study by Yale University has just come out and it claims that people and especially children can become addicted to fast food and “comfort foods”. Of course this would lead possibly to a reason for the obesity epidemic that is sweeping the nation. If this is in fact the case, that would call for us to re-think how we are approaching the obesity issue. Should we be looking at it as an addiction issue or continue with the techniques we are using presently.

If though it is an addiction issue is it strictly a physical issue or do we need to be looking at the emotional issues that many times contributes to taking part in addictive activities. Could it be that the stress that so many of our children feel is a contributing factor, or is it due to low grade depression? I of course do not know the answer to those questions. I do know however that stress is a bigger part of the lives of our children than most of us parents are able to comprehend. Much of the reason for that is that we have a tendency to compare the child’s causes of stress to our own and – well there seems to be no comparison. But in fact our children do have high levels of stress in their lives, socially, academically and many worry over pleasing their parents.

What can children do about this? As parents we have a responsibility to help them have tools to combat stress, which means we must have tools to do the same. Where do we start? I would suggest starting with some quiet time to take some deep breaths and calm ourselves. Follow that with some physical movement to relax all of our body parts, and then ask ourselves “What is the most important thing I can do right now that will have the biggest impact on my life, job, family? Then take care of that one thing.

For more information on childhood obesity look at this presentation on What’s really causing the childhood obesity epidemic? – What Kids Say by Dr. Pretlow.

To learn how martial arts and Balanced Life Skills can help you relieve stress come in to our studio and try out some classes.

Dangerous Trends Facing Children: What Causes Eating Disorders?

When we talk about confidence in oneself we must look at the idea of having confidence in our mind and body.  For years now we have been learning more about eating disorders and how they affect some in our society.  Each of us though can be a ‘gatekeeper’ in identifying and helping those who may be partaking in any of these destructive behaviors.  How can we identify them?

Anorexia nervosa –  Those suffering with this BEHAVIOR do not eat enough food because they think they are too fat, even though they may be very thin.

Bulimia nervosa – Those suffering with this behavior will eat and many times overeat and then purge after overeating.

Binge-eaters – cannot control the amount of food they eat.

So how is it that individuals develop these behaviors?  For many they do not see their  behavior as being self-harmful, and were only trying to deal with or solve another problem.  After doing some research here are the some of the most common causes of eating disorders:

  • Major life transitions
  • Family patterns and problems
  • Social problems
  • Failure at school, work or competitive events
  • A traumatic event
  • Major illness or injury
  • Other psychiatric illnesses (triggered biologically, or previous obsessive compulsive symptoms)

It is not really known why some individuals might develop these disorders and others will not but given the list from above, there are things to consider that may help you see if a person or even yourself may have a propensity to develop an eating disorder. Continue reading “Dangerous Trends Facing Children: What Causes Eating Disorders?”

A look to the New Year

As we approach the new year it is a time to reflect on what our lives will be in this year coming.  I am in that process myself now, with a number of changes that have taken place in my life and business.  While I continue to think about this I do know that there are a couple of areas that I would like to give my attention. Continue reading “A look to the New Year”

Is medication the answer?

I have been looking at the information available in regard to dangerous trends facing children today.  One of them as we reported earlier is depression.  In a response to that the Food and Drug  Administration reports in September 2009 that more than 500,000 children and adolescents in America are now taking antipsychotic drugs.  This includes not only teens, but more shocking, is the growing use of drugs in tens of thousands of preschoolers

From 2000 to 2007 there has been a doubling of the prescriptions of antipsychotic drugs for privately insured 2-5 year olds, with only 40% of them having received proper mental health assessments.  Even more disturbing, children from lower income situations were far more likely to be given a prescription than having counseling for the child and the whole family – due to the difference in the cost of the two ways of approaching these issues.

Here is a link to the story found in the NY Times this week about one such boy and the story of 5 years of diagnosis, drugs, therapy and the end result. 

“Families sometimes feel the need for a quick fix,” Dr. Gleason, a Columbia medical graduate who had led a team that wrote 2007 practice guidelines for psychopharmacological treatment of very young children, said. “That’s often the prescription pad. But I’m concerned that when a child sees someone who prescribes but doesn’t do therapy, they’re closing the door that can make longer-lasting change.”

At the end of September, I will be releasing a report on the research I have been doing on the 6 Most Dangerous Trends Facing our Children Today.   I look forward to sharing it with parent groups in our community.  For more information please feel free to contact Joe Van Deuren at Balanced Life Skills.

Can pre-school children be depressed?

I have been working on a report of the 6 most dangerous trends facing our children today.  One of the most stunning pieces of research I have come across is that the fasting growing age groups for depression are pre-schoolers.  Then last week this article came out in the NY Times.  Here is the link to the article.


In the coming weeks I will be ready to present the findings of the work I have been doing to parent groups.  Depression is just one of the trends that have surprised me.  This report will include not just the problems but some of the solutions too.

Out of the Darkness Walk

Coming up this September there is an event that while difficult to talk about is an important one to our community.  It is the Out of the Darkness Walk held on September 18, 2010.   I will join hundreds of others on this walk to raise money to prevent suicide.  Last year over 350 individuals joined us in this effort. 

Since the Out of the Darkness Walk in 2009 I have had the privilege to be a part of the Youth Suicide Awareness Task Force here in Anne Arundel County.  There have been 44 of us trained to teach others how to recognize the signs of those who may be considering ending their life. This year with a grant received from, Garrett Lee Smith Youth Suicide Prevention, along with the work of this Task Force we will be training an additional 19 individuals and completing the training of many individuals (gatekeepers) in our community.  The groups being trained at this time are the majority of those in the school system and many other youth leaders, coaches and public service individuals. 

I have personally never undertaken a more important work.  I also have never seen so many agencies, faith groups, public service groups, non profits and community members ban together in an effort to protect our youth from the #3 cause of death among 15-24 year olds.

If you are going to be in Annapolis on September 18 I would like to invite you to join me (us) in this cause.  If you are interested in having a group of parents or other adults to be trained in QPR, the training for those of us who have contact with young people (gatekeepers), please let me know and we will make the arrangements for this training to take place. 

In the near future I will be releasing a report on the 6 most dangerous trends facing children, many of them are factors that lead up to suicide attempts.  I have been working on this along with a few others for the past few months and the information is shocking.  As shocking as it is, being aware of the trends allows us to do something about them with our own children. 

You can sign up for the walk at this website.


Please feel free to let me know that you will be joining us at the walk.