Childhood Obesity – September may have been Childhood Obesity Month, but for any parent out there, this is a global epidemic that is gaining traction and should constantly be on your radar. I know it’s on mine, and here is why.
According to the Center for Disease and Prevention, obesity has more than doubled in children ages 17 and younger over the past 30 years – meaning that one in every five children in the country is considered obese. Whether it be in adults or children, obesity poses a huge risk for cardiovascular diseases and is also linked to diabetes. It can also lead to health risks such as asthma, sleep apnea, joint problems, and liver disease.
Not to mention social discrimination, self-esteem issues, and problems in school.
To further drive the point home, I pulled a few sobering facts from FoodFacts.com.
- In 2013, the American Medical Association voted to classify obesity as a disease.
- Childhood obesity may reduce life expectancy by at least five years. This means that children that are obese may have a shorter lifespan than their parents.
- Children that have obesity are more likely to have obesity as adults, which may lead to lifelong physical, emotional and mental health problems.
- Up to 70% of obese children already have at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
- Over 50% of overweight and obese children have breathing problems and can develop asthma.
- Childhood obesity may increase the afflicter’s risk for many types of cancer, multiple myeloma and Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
One of the biggest factors that caught my eye with childhood obesity is how devastating it can be on a child’s performance in school. Not many people think about the social stigmas and self-esteem issues that can come into play, which directly affect a child’s ability to be an active member of various youth groups and have friends. It can also impact their willingness to take on school tasks, leading to poor grades.
So what can we do as parents?
We can start by living our own lives as healthy as we possibly can, which if you have visited my website enough times, you know I am a huge proponent of. Think about it – if we are eating unhealthy, not working out and gaining weight, odds are that our children will do the same. That sets a horrible example, and those bad habits will carry over to their adult life.
Parents must set the example by observing good sleeping habits, proper nutrition and regular eating times. Instead of ordering pizza every night because it’s quick and easy, go to the grocery store and focus on buying fresh foods. Make their breakfast every morning and a wholesome sack lunch for school. Let them help you cook dinner, and stress the importance of what certain foods will do to help them be healthy.
Resources for Parents
Check out my previous blogs for great tips on that if you are having problems. That’s what I’m here for.
And for goodness sake, get your kids moving. Limit the time they spend watching television or playing video games. I’m not suggesting go have them do 50 Squat Thrusts before bed every night, or to keep on them like a drill sergeant. But keeping them active is definitely the key… and it may require YOU to be the leader to get the family healthy!
And don’t overthink it. A child’s daily exercise can be as simple as getting them involved in sports or setting a timer when they are asked to do chores around the house. If you are the type of person who likes to do yard work, get the kids to pull weeds or let them help your husband push the lawnmower. My personal favorite is to put in a workout DVD and do it together as a family!
Bottom line, I urge you to think about childhood obesity long after this month is over. Living a healthy and fit lifestyle should be the goal of every adult – and every family.