September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness month. Childhood obesity is a very prevalent issue in this country; about one in five American children have obesity. This month provides an opportunity to raise awareness for this public health crisis while also sharing ways to promote a healthy lifestyle for children.
According to a recent study conducted by the CDC, about 14.7 million children and adolescents are affected by obesity. Obesity is defined as an individual having a body mass index (BMI) greater than 30. Other health conditions related to obesity are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, breathing problems, etc. At HealthPark Pediatrics, the health of your children is our top priority. Learn more about the associated risks and changes your family can make to prevent childhood obesity.
Childhood Obesity Health Risks
If you have a child with obesity, there are usually other health complications to follow. Being overweight as a child can increase the chances of certain diseases and health complications, such as:
- Type 2 diabetes
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Liver disease
- Bone and joint issues
- Eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia
- Sleep disorders
Unfortunately, most children that are obese do not outgrow this problem as they enter adulthood. In fact, children with obesity are more likely to continue to gain weight as they get older. It’s crucial to tackle obesity and the additional health-related issues with your children while they are young so it doesn’t affect them as adults.
Tackling Childhood Obesity
Your children will look to you for guidance on nutrition and physical activity. It’s important as parents to set a good example for your kids when it comes to health. The Childhood Obesity Foundation encourages the “5-2-1-0” rule of thumb. Here are ways to get the whole family involved in healthy food and fitness habits.
- Five or more veggies and fruits per day
Eating healthy doesn’t have to be challenging. Adding more fruits and veggies to your plate will improve your children’s diet. Including at least one fruit or vegetable element in each meal and a snack will ensure that you hit this daily goal. Lead by example and include healthy foods in your meals as well. This way, the child won’t view fruits and vegetables as a boring option or a punishment. Having meals together will also allow you to monitor their food intake in a healthy manner.
- No more than two hours of screen time a day
These days it is certainly a battle to limit screen time; however, it’s a crucial part of leading an active and healthy lifestyle. Reducing your children’s screen time will open up their schedules for other activities and erase the temptation to snack while watching television or browsing a device.
- At least one hour of physical activity per day
Carving out at least one hour in the day for exercise will put your child on a healthier path. There are many fun ways to encourage your child to be physically active. The key is to find something they enjoy so they don’t begin to resent physical activity. Suggest a family walk or bike ride to get everyone involved. Or, if your child is a sports lover, sign them up for after-school sports so they can get their physical activity done in a fun group environment.
- Zero sugary drinks
Sugary drinks, such as sodas, sports drinks, juices, energy drinks, etc., are the largest source of calories and added sugar in the U.S. diet. Cutting out these drinks can significantly affect the number of calories children consume. Often, liquids are not what immediately registers as a dessert or sugary treat. Therefore, a soda accompanied by other unhealthy foods can do double the damage to your children’s health.
Get in Touch With Us
HealthPark Pediatrics works to provide comprehensive, individualized care to all of our patients. We offer various pediatric services to keep your child happy and healthy, including nutrition consulting and well-visits. Call our Raleigh, NC office at (919) 896-7076 to make an appointment.