Studies show link between outdoors and health

In view of all that’s happening in this country – record federal and state deficits, soaring unemployment, political dysfunction and scandals, terrorism threats, and so on and so on – increasingly more people might wish they could pull a Rip Wan Winkle and wake up once all these worries had gone away. But that only happens in fairy tales and folklore. In real life we have to tackle problems head on and deal with them.

I don’t know if this works for everyone, but my Van Winkle escape – albeit far shorter than old Rip’s – is when I get to spend a few hours or days outdoors. Whatever the activity may be, there’s definitely a sense of escapism when I’m exposed to the natural world and not the manmade high-tech one. But I’ve also noticed an alarming trend in this age of high-tech that could negatively affect this country for years to come – the growing number of overweight, couch-potato adults and youths I see these days.

Researchers estimate that more than 229,000 American children currently have diabetes; and of those children, fully one-third are obese. Childhood obesity can also carry with it some heavy health risks that often last well into adulthood – heart disease, high blood pressure and depression, to name a few.

A recent study, published in the February ‘09 issue of Diabetes Care, found that approximately 3.2 youths for every 1,000 American children under the age of 18 currently have diabetes. And one-third of those children are indeed obese. The study found that children ages 6 to 11 and ages 12 to 17 who were obese were more than twice as likely to have diabetes than children of the same age who were of normal weight. Diabetes in youths this young was almost unheard of a couple generations ago

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