The number of children overweight continues to be a growing issue in the United States. Recent reports indicate that the percentage of young kids exceeding their expected weight for their height and body type has doubled in the past couple of decades. Unhealthy diets and shifts in lifestyle have contributed to the spike. This includes overeating, poor nutrition and lack of physical activity.
There are ways that parents and society as a whole can help curve this epidemic. But first, let’s explore why the topic of childhood obesity is so necessary to address.
Medical Issues Associated with Childhood Obesity
It’s true that having extra weight may be associated with genetics and can run in families. However, being overweight is usually the result of taking in more calories than those being burned off through exercise or normal everyday activity. If not managed, certain medical conditions are prone to arise.
It’s a common fact that excess sweets, starchy and fatty foods contribute to weight gain. Also, more than often, they lead to an unhealthy balance of sugar and end up disturbing the pancreas. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), one of the most common diseases among children today is diabetes.
Some of the other medical risks of childhood obesity include the following:
• High cholesterol
• High blood pressure
• Pre- diabetes
• Joint issues due to unbalanced distribution of weight
• Sleep Apnea
• Depression and low self-esteem
When children and adolescences carry extra weight, it increases their chances of having obesity in their adulthood. This puts them at higher risks of all the above as an adult in addition to developing osteoarthritis, strokes and cancer. So essentially, taking steps to avoid childhood obesity is taking steps to avoid shortening the individual lifespan.
Just as important to a child’s physical health is their mental well-being. Feeling good about their bodies help decrease chances of having depression or other psychological disorders. All of these risks can be lowered by maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Ways to Help Children be Healthy and Active
Parents play a big role in steering the direction of their children’s health. It is not solely up the schools or peers. The foundation is always laid at home. Mom and dads can start by creating an environment at home that encourages healthy eating practices and regular activities.
Having each child properly examined by a pediatrician is the best way to determine if your child has an issue with weight. If your child is over his/her expected body mass, you may be given specific instructions regarding modifying eating habits.
Most adults flock to special diets or rigorous exercise schedules in order to slim down. However, when it comes to children and young teens who haven’t reached their maximum height or full development yet, weight management should be approached differently. One reason is that many important vitamins and minerals get omitted from certain well known diet plans.
Instead, parents can make sure to curve the servings on each plate, leaving more room for fruits and veggies. That means spending a little more on produces. Meals should typically be low calorie and balanced. Parents can also make sure to check the servings on the side labels of food products.
Often times, the amount of fruits and vegetables eaten on a child’s plate are not monitored. Because of the amount of time kids spend at school or just with friends, keeping up with how they snack tend to be difficult. Kids can are notorious for snacking on unhealthy treats like sodium packed chips.
In addition, going out to eat and having take-outs can be a problems. For one, most fast food meals contain a large amount of cholesterol. Not to mention, at restaurants the portions are usually for two, not one.
Technology is another big thing that hinders a healthy lifestyle because it has the tendency of deterring the youth from engaging in physical activities. The amount of time being spent playing video games and surfing the internet may need to be observed may take the place of bike riding, soccer with friends etc. Parents can step in by setting limits on how much television not just the children watch, but how much the whole family watches as well. All of this will aid in raising up more active children, and thus a more healthy society.