September is National Childhood Obesity Month
There are ways to promote healthy growth in children and prevent obesity. Certain groups of children are more affected than others.
According to The Office of Disease and Health Promotion, 1 in 3 children in the United States is overweight or obese. Childhood obesity puts kids at risk for health problems that were once seen only in adults, like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
The CDC states that childhood obesity is a major public health problem.
- Children with obesity are at higher risk for having other chronic health conditions and diseases, such as asthma, sleep apnea, or bone and joint problems.
- They also have a higher cholesterol than their normal weight peers.
- Children with obesity can be bullied and teased more than their normal weight peers. This may cause social isolation, depression, and lower self-esteem.
- Children with obesity are more likely to have obesity as adults. This can lead to lifelong physical and mental health problems. Adult obesity is associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and many types of cancers.
Childhood obesity Is influenced by many factors.
Many factors can have an impact on childhood obesity including:
- eating habits
- physical activity behaviors
- family and home environment
- community and social factors
For some children and families, obesity may be influenced by the following:
- extended periods of inactivity
- lack of sleep
- lack of community centers for physical activity
- easy access to inexpensive, high calorie foods, and sugary beverages
- no access to affordable, healthier foods
The good news? Childhood obesity can be prevented.
There are ways parents can help prevent obesity and support healthy growth in children.
Energy balance is important to ensure children have a healthy weight. Parents can help their children achieve a healthy weight and maintain it.
- Be aware of your child’s growth. Learn how obesity is measured in children and use CDC’s Child and Teen BMI Calculator to screen your child for potential weight issues.
- Provide nutritious, lower-calorie foods such as fruits and vegetables in place of foods high in added sugars and solid fats. Try serving more fruit and vegetables at meals and as snacks.
- Limit juices and sugary beverages and make sure there is plenty of drinking water as a no-calorie alternative.
- Help children get the recommended amount of physical activity each day. Find age appropriate activities here.
- Be a role model! Eat healthy meals and snacks, and get the right amount of physical activity every day.
- Learn what you can do to help shape a healthy school environment
How can National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month make a difference?
Let’s raise awareness this September about the obesity epidemic and show others how they can take steps toward a solution.
Here are just a few ideas:
- Encourage families to make small changes, like keeping fresh fruit within reach or going on a family walk after dinner.
- Motivate teachers and administrators to make schools healthier. Help them provide healthy food options and daily physical activities for students.
- Ask doctors and nurses to be leaders in their communities by supporting programs to prevent childhood obesity.
Credit: District Health Dept, CDC, and USDA.Gov