Friday, August 14, 2009

Children and Their Weight

Just pick up the newspaper or a current periodical and read the numerous articles about our country’s overweight problem. There are even more articles about our children and the problems associated with excessive weight. Karen DeBord, Ph.D., Professor & Extension Specialist for NC State University states,Being overweight can have a number of psychological consequences -- and a new University of Missouri study has found that overweight children begin to show signs of these negative consequences as early as kindergarten. Both boys and girls who were overweight from kindergarten through third grade displayed more depression, anxiety, and loneliness than children who were never overweight, and those symptoms worsened over time. This was especially pronounced in girls; according to University of Missouri's Sara Gable, "Teachers reported that these girls had less positive social relations and displayed less self-control and more acting out than never-overweight girls." As a teacher in high school, I witnessed this with many of my overweight students. The young girls naturally want to dress in the latest teen fashions. Unfortunately, many of those styles do not lend themselves to sizes above 16. The larger styles tend to look more matronly and not something that a young girl would like to wear. In my classes there were many challenges. How do you talk to an overweight teen about watching calories and fat grams when their thin friends are totally oblivious watching movies, eating the traditional teen foods of pizza, soft drinks, and brownies? How do you talk to that teen about shopping and see her frustration as she knows that all the really cool clothes don’t look that cool on her? It is my thought that the first strategy could be to take on a united front. Try not to make a big deal about being overweight. Take the approach that “it is time for out family to clean up our act.” You control the grocery list. Eliminate soft drinks first. I opt for water. Those energy and vitamin drinks are also unnecessary expenses. Don’t even have them in the house. Secondly, cut out the junk food. Contrary to what they may tell you, the teens will not starve if you also eliminate the junk. Instead, buy fruits and vegetables that you can wash, cut up, and put into little snack bags in the refrigerator. Make these their only alternative when the snack monster hits. Finally, make it a family project to be more active. They will probably protest mightily, but get the whole family on their feet and out the door for a walk every evening after dinner for at least thirty minutes. Life minus soft drinks and junk snacks plus a daily walk will yield results. I promise! The next question is. How do you know when your teen is truly overweight and not jus “big boned?” I have heard this rationalization more than one time. The term BMI is being tossed around more and more. This is an indicator of body fat. For adults, the Center for Disease Control has a specific chart for adults. The first step is to determine your BMI. This is done with the following formula: body weight divided by height in inches divided by height in inches multiplied by 703. For example if someone weighed 185 pounds and their height was 5’ 9” they would calculate their BMI as follows: 185 divided by 69 divided by 69 X 703 = 27.3. Now look at the following chart from the CDC.

Below 18.5 Underweight

18.5 – 24.9 Normal

25.0 – 29.9 Overweight

30.0 and Above Obese

According to the chart, this individual is overweight. For children, BMI is calculated in the same manner. However, the same chart would not be used for children. To determine if a child is considered overweight, one would need to consult the CDC website. A child’s status depends on which percentile that the child’s BMI falls into. BMI is a good way to begin taking charge of your health and the health of your family.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Osteoporosis Awareness Finale

North Carolina Cooperative Extension and Cherokee County Senior Services held the Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention grand finale on June 4th at the Penland Center in Murphy. The guest speaker was Dr. Kate Queen, rheumatologist from Clyde, NC.

Dr. Queen was able to relay her extensive knowledge on the subject of osteoporosis in a way that was easily understood. Program participants were also given the opportunity to ask Dr. Queen questions.

As each attendee registered, they were given an osteoporosis wristband and button. The program also featured deli sandwiches and fruit. After Dr. Queen’s presentation, everyone enjoyed the door prizes, which consisted of Osteoporosis Foundation products and garden flowers.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Summer Skin Care

Summer rain, summer breezes, summer vacation, and summer fun. All of these phrases evoke pleasant mental pictures. Along with all the summer pleasantries come the warnings associated with our skin. Of course special concerns must be acknowledged when spending more time in the great outdoors and hence the sun. According to the
University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension, “If we do not take good care of our skin then we are at greater risk of getting skin cancer. Cancer of the skin is the most common, accounting for nearly half of all cancers. There are three primary types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer.
Here are some tips on how to protect yourself from the sun’s UV rays:

* Avoid, when possible, outdoor activities during midday, when the sun’s rays are strongest.
* Apply sunscreen and lip screen to exposed body areas. The higher the SPF Factor the better the protection.
* Wear loose-fitting clothing made from tightly woven fabric to cover and protect your skin. A wet t-shirt offers much less protection than a dry one.
* Wear a hat with a brim.
* Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes and reduce the risk of cataracts.
* Seek shade
After reminding ourselves about the dangers of excessive sun exposure, we also must remember how certain summer plants and insects might affect our skin. If you are one of the unfortunate people who are allergic to poison oak, then you know the torment that this pesky plant causes.
“Ohio State University pharmaceutical researcher John Mark Christensen says there are a number of methods for getting rid of urushiol from poison oak exposure and stopping the itch, ranging from simple soap and water to specialized cleansers that bind with the oil and remove it from skin.
"It's really simple," he said. "If you are diligent about washing off poison oak or ivy oil with soap and water, that works just as well as any of the cleansers that are out there on the market. The problem comes about because most people just aren't diligent enough in their cleansing routines.”
After sun and poison oak, most everyone has experienced chiggers at one point in their lives. The Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet offers the following advice:
“After returning from a chigger-infested area, launder the field clothes in soapy, hot water (125°F.) for about half an hour. Infested clothes should not be worn again until they are properly laundered and/or exposed to hot sunshine. Unlaundered clothes or those laundered in cool water will contain the biting chiggers to again re-infest your skin. As soon as possible, take a good hot bath or shower and soap repeatedly. The chiggers may be dislodged, but you will still have the stylostomes, causing the severe itch. Scratching deep to remove stylostomes can cause secondary infections. For temporary relief of itching, apply ointments of benzocaine, hydrocortisone, calamine lotion, New Skin, After Bite, or others recommended by your pharmacist or medical doctor. Some use petroleum jelly, cold cream, baby oil, or fingernail polish. (The sooner the treatment, the better the results.)”

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Upcoming Food Preservation Workshops

Mark your calendars for the upcoming Food Preservation Workshops to be held in Clay County on
June 25 and in Cherokee County on July 9. Both of these workshops will be held from 1:00-4:00 and then again from 6:00-9:00. The workshop is only $10.00 and all participants will receive a “Ball Blue Book”. This is a great opportunity to come and learn different food preservation techniques from Extension professionals. Please call (828) 837-2210 for more information about or to sign up. For an online registration form, please click here.

Herbal Gardening

An herb gardening class will be held at the community garden site on May 21st, at 5:30pm. Participants will learn to grow and use herbs. Please click here for a copy of one of the handouts the participants will receive.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

4-H Day Camps to Include Sewing

Home sewing seems to be on the fast track to extinction. In years past this was a skill taught at home and fine tuned in the Home Economics classroom. When I taught Economics, I found that only a few students had even seen a sewing machine. It was much like my own experience as a freshman in college. I was taking computer science and had never seen a computer. My students, generally speaking, really enjoyed the sewing unit. They were always amazed that a pair of boxer shorts or pajama pants evolved from a flat piece of fabric. My primary objective with the sewing unit was that these students:
1. Learn to look for quality checkpoints when buying clothing
2. Identify their individual fitting requirements
3. Learn to make simple clothing repairs that would save money on clothing expenditures
4. Learn the proper way to launder clothing thus extending wearing time
As they learned to use a commercial pattern and operate a sewing machine, these objectives were easily incorporated. They were so proud of their project once it was completed. I found that the young men enjoyed the class and used their skills outside of the classroom. I remember one day during football season when the coach and several former students, now football players, were busy at the sewing machines sewing names on the back of the football jerseys. I was so proud! Occasionally I would encounter a student that would just catch the sewing bug. One student in the advanced class designed and made her own prom dress. One of my favorite memories was a young lady who took a 1950’s Christian Dior “New Look” pattern and made a dress to enter in the state FCCLA contest. Her black and white polka dot dress, complete with huge crinoline petticoat, won 1st place at the state conference. If you ever watched “I Love Lucy,” the dress was very similar to the dresses worn by Lucy on the show. The pattern itself was a challenge since the body measurements for a 50’s woman was very different from today’s body measurements for women. To add to the difficulty, the pattern did not have any pattern markings. It was a challenge for student and teacher alike. I am excited that the 4-H summer camps this year will have a sewing component. Shannon Coleman, the local 4-H agent will soon have the registration materials ready for sign ups. I will be helping with the camps and teaching a sewing unit. If you know of a young person who would be interested in 4-H summer camp, call the Extension Office at 837-2210 for more details.