The obesity epidemic continues to dominate headlines. Obesity is a leading cause of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and stroke. Many of these conditions occur in adults but often begin in childhood. This September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. By knowing the facts and taking steps to help your children live a healthier lifestyle, childhood obesity and its resulting complications may be prevented. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), one in three children in the U.S. is overweight or obese. Childhood obesity doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years. Why have we seen such a dramatic increase? Although genetics play a role and obesity runs in families, our genetics did not change in the last 30 years. What has changed is our diet and other environmental factors. The bottom line for many of us is that we eat too much, especially sugar and processed foods, and are not as active as we should be. The CDC recommends that children get at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day.
As parents and caregivers, you make a big difference in what your children and the children you care for think and do. You are role models for your family. Eating right and being active can help you maintain a healthy weight. When your kids see you making these choices, there’s a good chance that they will do the same. By promoting “energy balance” in your family’s life, you can help your family maintain a healthy weight.
What can you do to help your child?
- Offer new fruits and vegetables and encourage your child to take at least three bites
- Keep the TV and video games out of your child’s bedroom
- Take a family walk after dinner
- Encourage your child to drink more water or 16-24 ounces of low fat milk a day
- Discuss treatment options with your child’s medical provider if she/he is obese