In the last 10 years, childhood obesity rates in America have been steadily increasing. Studies have shown that around nine million children are overweight in the US. The number of teens who are overweight has more than tripled since 1980. Why is this so dangerous and what does this mean? This article unearths the facts of childhood obesity and ways we can help prevent it in our own children.
Obesity means that there is an excess amount of body fat. Because everyone’s body is different, there is not a set number does not exist for a lowest definition of obesity in children. Most professionals accept the published guidelines based on the Body Mass Index, which is modified for age and gender. Obesity is now among the most widespread medical problem affecting children and teens in the US.
There are a number of childhood obesity causes. Obesity tends in run in families and genetics can play a factor, but do not cause obesity alone. Dietary habits are the biggest cause of obesity. Children’s diets have increasingly shifted away from balanced, healthy foods, to more processed foods and fast food – all of which are high in fat and calories. The other factor is a major decrease in daily physical activity. The continued advances in technology have lead to a more sedentary lifestyle, Fewer than half of children in the US have parents who engage in physical exercise. Studies have also showing that children and teens spend on average, over three hours of watching television daily.
The effects of childhood obesity are many and can lead to life threatening diseases. Children who are overweight are much more likely to develop high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Both of these can lead to heart disease as an adult. Childhood obesity can also lead to diabetes, more specifically Type 2 Diabetes, which was once considered an adult disease. Obesity can also lead to low self-esteem. All of these are conditions that children should not have to deal with, especially at such a young age.
So how can you prevent childhood obesity in your home? Preventing childhood obesity starts with promoting a healthy lifestyle. As a parent you can educate your children on healthy eating habits. Make sure you have healthy snacks and meals at your house for them to eat. You can also show them by example the importance of daily physical activity. You can do physical activity together as family and it doesn’t have to be a huge, planned activity – play soccer, go on a walk or bike ride around the neighborhood, have a water fight, or play catch. The physical activity can be anything that gets your kids moving and shouldn’t become a family chore. Help teach your children healthy meal portions, especially went eating out. The most important thing is for you to lead by example. Don’t focus on an exact weight, or on their unhealthy habits, make it more of a lifestyle change.
As childhood obesity in America continues to increase it is important that we take the steps necessary to help our children learn how to eat healthy, make exercise a part of their everyday activity and teach them correct portions. These simple steps will not only help them avoid obesity now, but will help them develop healthy habits that they will carry with them for the rest of their life. It is important to lead by example as parents, because even though we are not aware of it, our children are watching the everyday choices that we make.