September is an important month in the medical industry, especially when it comes to children. We devote this month to Childhood Obesity Awareness and cutting down on this epidemic that has been affecting our country for years.
Since 1970, the number of overweight and obese children in the United States has tripled. By definition a child is overweight if their BMI is in the 85-95 percentile, and children over the 95th percentile for BMI are considered obese. An overweight or obese child can be at a high risk for many health conditions including asthma, bone/joint problems, type two diabetes and heart problems. Childhood obesity oftentimes leads to adult obesity, which can also have many harmful health side effects. Not only does this problem affect children physically, but mentally as well. Weight problems can cause teasing and bullying from other kids, which can lead to depression and self-esteem issues.
So why has this problem grown so much in the past years and why does it continue? The answer is simple: not enough emphasis on healthy eating habits and lifestyle choices. It’s easy for kids these days to grab for fast food or junk and to sit on the couch for hours playing video games. It is our responsibility as parents to teach our kids healthy habits to help them make smart decisions for their bodies, especially if they already struggle with weight.
There are a few easy steps we recommend for children who have weight problems or for parents who are trying to instill healthy habits in their children’s lives. First off, a good diet. Yes it is always easier to swing through a drive-thru on the way home from practices or lessons, but that is not the healthy choice. Educating your kids on the food pyramid, food terms and cooking are the best ways for them to learn at a young age which options are best for their bodies.
The second step includes exercise. Most kids do not get enough exercise throughout the day. Some schools do not even require physical education courses anymore, so it is important as a parent to make sure your child is being active and not sedentary all day long. The recommended amount is 60 minutes a day, but obviously more can be good.
Our third and final tip is to lead by example. Your kids watch and learn from you so if you aren’t being active and making an effort to eat healthy then your child won’t and the obesity epidemic will continue.
We want to keep everyone aware of this issue and make sure you know the severity. These kids have bright futures, but will be unable to succeed if they are weighed down by health issues and insecurities.
If you have questions about your child’s diet or exercise plan, please reach out and set up an appointment. We are always happy to help! You can also find helpful information on the Center for Disease Control website.