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​Using Wyoming Physical Therapy to Combat Childhood Obesity

November 16, 2016

One of the biggest health challenges facing the US today is childhood obesity. Obesity in kids puts them at risk to early development of health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, as well as joint problems. It also increases stress on ligaments and joint support systems limiting mobility and sometimes causing pain. Wyoming’s premier physical therapists at North Platte Physical Therapy pediatric department can not only help your child to get to a more healthy weight but also teach them skills that will help them maintain optimum weight and good healthy habits throughout their lives to lessen the danger that overweight kids will become overweight adults.

According to the Center for Disease Control, the childhood obesity facts are cause for alarm. In the past 30 years pediatric obesity has doubled in kids and quadrupled in adolescents. Currently more than one third of our youth can be classified as overweight or obese, which means they have a Body Mass Index (BMI) that is at or above the 95th percentile for kids the same age.

The health risks for overweight kids are many. They include cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes or pre-diabetes. If obesity continues, young adults are also at greater risk for all of the above in addition to stroke and arthritis. Obesity is also associated with increased risk of certain cancers including breast, kidney, colon, pancreas, ovary, thyroid, prostate, and Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Kids can also suffer from emotional issues such as stigmatization and low self-esteem.

The good news is that physical therapy can be extremely effective. Physical therapists will start by assessing each child’s weight gain and root causes. The child may have a genetic condition predisposing them to obesity or it may have more to do with activity level or eating habits. The road to wellness will begin with education for both children and their parents. Specific lifestyle changes will be targeted and fully explained. The first goal will likely be to increase cardio vascular exercise and reduce sedentary time in front of the computer or television. An exercise program will be designed based upon the child’s interests to make it fun for them as well. Challenging but attainable goals will be set providing kids with a much needed self-esteem boost when accomplished.

As the cardio workouts begin to help the patient shed weight, strength and flexibility conditioning will also be instituted. Kids that are overweight as their bones are growing are developing can be at risk for a variety of conditions including Blount's disease. Excess weight on the tibia causes the leg to rotate inward and develop improperly. This condition cannot be reversed so it is important to tackle their weight problem as soon as possible. Weight training will strengthen muscles that support joints reducing the risk of injury and damage. Core strengthening will also improve posture reducing the strain on the spine and back muscles.

To find out more about North Platte Physical Therapy pediatric treatment plans, including childhood obesity and diabetes, fill out our contact form. After the holiday’s are over, it’s a perfect time of year to adopt a new and healthy lifestyle. Start today!