Thursday, November 19, 2009
How Do Kids Lose Weight?
(original Article from Livestrong.com)
According to the 2003-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, an estimated 17 percent of American children and teenagers between the ages of 2 and 19 could be considered overweight. These statistics only continue to grow as American adult dietary habits get passed down to their children. Luckily, the same methods that help adults lose weight, can also be utilized to help children lose weight as well.
Creating a Calorie Deficit
For a child to lose weight, there must first be a calorie deficit between how many calories are consumed through food, and how many calories are burned while performing regular bodily functions. There are two main ways to create a calorie deficit. The first way is through exercise. For kids, simple changes in habits, such as less television and video games, and more playing outside or taking part in school sports, can quickly burn enough calories to obtain a calorie deficit. Another way to create a calorie deficit is through diet. Because children need calories to grow and develop properly, it is not recommended to drastically cut calories from a child's diet. Instead, a focus on healthy foods (such as those listed by the USDA food pyramid) instead of sweets and processed meals, can help reduce the amount of calories, while still providing the nutrients needed for healthy development.
Breaking Down Triglycerides
Once a calorie deficit has been achieved, the body has to turn to fat storage for energy. This is where the child will lose the weight from. To turn the fat storage into energy, the body must first break down the triglycerides into smaller parts. When the brain senses that not enough calories have been consumed to function at normal levels, it triggers the release of hormones, such as epinephrine, that activate an enzyme called lipase. Lipase works on triglycerides and breaks them down into glycerol and fatty acids. Next, both glycerol and the fatty acids need to be broken down into a substance called acetyl-CoA. Glycerol is broken down into acetyl-CoA by a process called glycolysis, while the fatty acids are broken down through a process called beta oxidation.
Fat to Waste
Once the fat has been broken down into acetyl-CoA, it is able to be broken down even further into hydrogen and carbon dioxide through a process called the Krebs cycle. The hydrogen moves on in the process, and through a chemical reaction is combined with oxygen to create water and energy. The remaining water can then exit the body as waste through the child's urine or sweat. The carbon dioxide also exits the body as waste, but instead of through urine, it is exhaled out of the child's lungs. With the fat transformed into energy and waste, after the waste exits the body, the child will weight less.
About this Author
Chris Sherwood is a professional freelance journalist who specializes in health and fitness, diseases, medical and health research, and drug and alcohol effects research. Sherwood is a full time student in psychology with an emphasis on drug and alcohol counseling.
Last updated on: 11/17/09