The Problem with Childhood Obesity:
Childhood obesity has become a major problem in the United States. One out of every three children in the U.S. is overweight or obese. This is a significant increase from just one generation ago. Overweight children are more likely to become overweight adults. They are also more likely to have health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
The Prevalence of Childhood Obesity:
The prevalence of childhood obesity has increased dramatically over the last several decades. In the United States, the percentage of children and adolescents affected by obesity has more than tripled since the 1970s.1 According to recent data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 17% (or 12.7 million) of U.S. children and adolescents aged 2-19 years are obese.2
Childhood obesity is a complex health problem. It occurs when a child is well above the normal weight for his or her age and height. Childhood obesity is particularly concerning because it increases a child’s risk for developing a number of serious health conditions, including type 2 diabetes, Sleep apnea, certain types of cancer, High cholesterol and hypertension problems in adulthood.3,4 In addition, childhood obesity can lead to social isolation, poor self-esteem and depression in children and teens.5
There are many factors that contribute to childhood obesity. genetics plays a role, but research suggests that environment and lifestyle play a larger role in this epidemic.6 Diet is one area where parents can make a big difference in their child’s health. Numerous studies have shown that children who eat a healthy diet are less likely to be overweight or obese than those who do not.7
The good news is that childhood obesity is preventable. Families can make small changes in their lifestyle and eating habits that will have a big impact on their child’s weight and health.
The Health Risks of Childhood Obesity:
Once rare, childhood obesity is now epidemic in the United States. The term “obesity” refers to a build-up of excess body fat. Childhood obesity is diagnosed when a child’s body mass index (BMI) is at or above the 95th percentile for their age and gender. In other words, if your child’s BMI is higher than that of 95 percent of kids their age and gender, they are considered obese.
Being obese as a child puts your child at risk for a number of health problems that can persist into adulthood, including:
– type 2 diabetes
– high blood pressure
– high cholesterol
– joint problems
– sleep apnea
– fatty liver disease
In addition to these risks, obese children are more likely to be obese adults, which can lead to even more serious health problems later in life, such as heart disease, stroke and some types of cancer.
Why Children Become Overweight:
There are a number of reasons why children become overweight. It could be due to genetics, a sedentary lifestyle, eating too much junk food, or a combination of these factors. Whatever the reason, it’s important to help your child eat a healthy diet and get plenty of exercise to prevent further weight gain. In this article, we’ll discuss some tips for doing just that.
A Sedentary Lifestyle:
A sedentary lifestyle is a major contributing factor to childhood obesity. Children who are inactive are more likely to become overweight or obese than children who are active. A sedentary lifestyle includes activities such as watching television, playing video games, and using the computer. It is important for children to be active every day to help prevent childhood obesity.
Poor Dietary Habits:
One of the primary reasons that children become overweight is poor dietary habits. Children who consume a diet high in calories, fat, and sugar are at a higher risk for becoming overweight or obese. A child’s diet should consist of healthy foods that are low in calories, fat, and sugar.
Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy products. These foods provide the nutrients that children need for growth and development.
Poor dietary habits can also lead to other health problems, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. If you are concerned about your child’s weight, talk to your child’s healthcare provider. He or she can help you create a healthy eating plan for your child.
Helping Your Overweight Child Eat a Healthy Diet:
If your child is overweight, you may feel like you’re at a loss of what to do. You may feel guilty, or like you’re a bad parent. However, your child’s weight is not your fault, and you can help them to eat a healthy diet and lose weight. Here are some tips on how to help your overweight child eat a healthy diet.
Encourage Healthy Eating Habits:
There are many small steps you can take to encourage healthy eating habits in your overweight child. Here are some tips:
– Model healthy eating habits yourself. Children imitate what they see. If you eat healthy foods, your child is more likely to do the same.
– Be sure to offer plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain foods at meals and snacks. These foods are packed with nutrients and fiber and are low in calories.
– Encourage your child to eat slowly and stop when he or she feels full. It takes about 20 minutes for the brain to register that the stomach is full.
– Avoid using food as a reward or punishment. This can create an unhealthy emotional connection to food.
– Avoid fad diets. These can be unhealthy and may not provide the nutrients your child needs for proper growth and development.
Promote Physical Activity:
One of the best things you can do to help your overweight child is to promote physical activity. Children should get at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day, and most of this should be moderate-to-vigorous intensity activity. Providing opportunities for your child to be active—and being active together as a family—can help increase your child’s level of physical activity.
Some Ideas to Promote Physical Activity Include:
- Making physical activity a part of everyday life by including it in family activities and routines.
- Encouraging your child to participate in a variety of different activities that they enjoy.
- Helping your child find ways to be active that are safe and enjoyable.
- Making sure that your child has the opportunity to be active at school and during after-school time.
Seek professional help:
If you are concerned about your child’s weight, the first step is to seek professional help. Your child’s doctor can evaluate your child’s health and development and determine if he or she is overweight or at risk for becoming overweight. The doctor can also rule out any underlying medical conditions that may be contributing to weight gain.
Once you have a better understanding of your child’s situation, you can work with the doctor to develop a plan to help your child eat a healthy diet and achieve a healthy weight. This may involve making changes to your family’s eating and activity habits.
Here Are Some Tips to Get You Started:
• Encourage your child to eat breakfast every day. Breakfast provides energy and nutrients that are essential for starting the day.
• Make sure that meals and snacks are nutritious and low in calories. Include plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads and cereals, lean protein, and low-fat dairy products in your child’s diet.
• Limit sugary drinks such as soda, sports drinks, and fruit juices. Encourage your child to drink water or milk instead.
• Encourage your child to be active for at least 60 minutes every day. Physical activity can include playing outside, taking a dance class, riding a bike, or going for a walk with the family dog.
Making these changes may take some time and effort, but they will help your child develop healthy eating habits that will last a lifetime.