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Obesity, a major problem

Some of us who grew up on the farm and had chores to do every day find it hard to recall anyone who was overweight. Physical activity combined with a mostly vegetarian diet kept the fat off. The absence of television and junk food also helped.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case in today’s society. Obese people, even young children, are the norm rather than the exception. This gives rise to Alabama having the dubious distinction of having the second largest number of obese people per capita in the nation.

Fortunately, efforts are under way by health professionals and weight management specialists to stem the tide.

The Children’s Hospital Center for Weight Management is advertising its third annual Camp SHINE,” a week-long overnight camp, which is scheduled at Camp Hargis YMCA in Chelsea June 3-20.

The purpose of the camp is to educate at risk or obese children about healthy lifestyle habits and to jump start weight loss through fun activities and a healthy diet. It is also designed as a resource for parents who want to help their children maintain a healthier lifestyle.

The program includes cooking lessons, scavenger hunts, arts and crafts, field trips, canoeing, dancing, hiking and many more kid-friendly activities. Plus, all camp counselors are affiliated with the William A. Daniel Adolescent Health Center and the program is coordinated by UAB physicians.

Although many children and adolescents who are overweight are not ill, being overweight puts them at risk for more serious long-term health issues, such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

What’s the answer to losing weight?

You have to eat fewer calories than your body uses. Calories are the amount of energy in the food you eat. Some foods have more calories than others. For example, foods that are high in fat and sugar are also high in calories. If you eat more calories than your body uses, the extra calories will be stored in the body as excess fat.

Increased physical activity is also a good way to curb your appetite and burn calories. Exercises that increased your heart rate and move large muscles in the body are the best.

Choose an activity that you can enjoy and that you can start slowly and increase gradually as you become used to it. Walking is popular and is inexpensive. Other good exercises include swimming, biking, jogging and dancing.

Don’t settle for a sedentary lifestyle. Take a bold step to lose weight, keep it off and feel better.