Definition of Childhood Obesity
Childhood obesity is defined as weight being well above normal for the child
age and height. It is one of our nations leading health threats. Today about 25 million children ages 2-19 in this country
are overweight or at risk of becoming overweight. According to the Nemours Foundation, approximately one of three children
can be classified as overweight or obese.
Behavioral factors such as artificial feeding (bottle feeding), urban
sprawl, dietary fat intake, sweetened drink intake, family eating patterns, growing portion sizes, levels of physical inactivity,
computer use, video and television viewing have been identified as major contributing factors for childhood obesity.
Obesity in children is an epidemic that can lead to problems later on in life such as diabetes, heart disease and renal
failure. Overweight children who have insulin resistance have an increased incidence of developing type 2 diabetes. In addition,
psychological disorders such as depression occur with increased frequency in obese children.
Obesity in children
must be addressed and studies show that tackling this problem early on can prevent the serious problems associated with it.
Overweight children need the support of their families and communities. Health newsletters, walking contests, marathons, healthy
food option, community-based programs on health and weight loss can all contribute to a healthier lifestyle for kids.
Added Physical Activity
Children with lack of parental limitations on television watching and their parents own television
viewing habits, were five to ten times more likely to be overweight. Encourage your child to participate in team sports, individual
sports, and-or recreational activities such as walking, running, skating, bicycling, swimming or just playground activities
instead of giving them TV and computer use for the rest of the day.
Encourage your child to walk or ride their
bikes to school accompanied by an adult. Parents should demonstrate the importance of physical activity by joining in. Start
with small changes, like taking a family walk after dinner once a week. Set reasonable, measurable goals and implement
Encourage healthier eating
Americans eat more snacks, eat on the run, and eat larger portions. The first
step in prevention and-or treatment is to help children change their eating behaviors and live healthier lifestyles.
Parents often indulge into instilling faulty food habits including too much of fast foods, chocolates among others in order
to pamper their children. If the child does not see temptations inside the house, then it will be easier for him to practice
healthy eating habits. This is a prevention tactic that should start early in the household, as children who are already used
to eating junk food may be difficult to train to eat healthier food.
Even if a parent is faced with a child with
a weight problem, a child should never be placed on an extremely restrictive diet or prevent them from eating when hungry.
A child needs nutrients and calories to help them develop and grow. Consult a pediatrician if you find that you cannot help
your child lose weight with a nutritious eating plan and physical activity.
Having our children lead a healthy
life can be made easier by implementing certain steps at the community level. You can promote walking contests in your neighborhood
or write to your councilman about healthy food options in schools and day care centers. Little things here and there
can slowly contribute to a healthier lifestyle for kids.
Prevention is therefore, key in preparing our children
for a healthy adolescence and adulthood. Environment, behavior and genetics all play a role in childhood obesity; the most
important thing is to focus on changing those things we can control, like behavior. That is right -- the old diet and exercise
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