Thursday, August 7, 2014

Childhood Obesity - the Hidden Epidemic

One in Every Five Children is Overweight

Childhood obesity is becoming all too common. What was once a rare occurrence, is now a severe problem. Because children are no longer as active as they once were, now spending most their time playing video games, watching TV, and on the computer, childhood obesity is now occurring much too frequent. Over the past 20 to 30 years, the number of obese children has doubled, making childhood obesity in the United States a new epidemic. Studies show that childhood obesity occurs in one in every five children-- no matter age, race, and gender.

Not only do obese children have to deal with social discrimination because of their weight, often  resulting in depression and self-esteem issues, but they also have to worry about type 2 diabetes, which was once only an adult condition. Obese children who continue to struggle with their weight throughout their childhood and then later into their adult life are put at a higher risk of serious health issues. One of the issues is heart disease, such as high blood pressure and even stroke.

Recently, it was found that genetics play a role in causes of obesity; however, genetics are not the sole contributor. The main culprits of causing obesity are unhealthy eating habits and lack of activity. In general, children who watch the most television have the highest levels of obesity. If you start to become concerned about your child's weight, you can talk to their doctor about conducting a BMI (body mass index) test. This test compares your child's height and weight to other children of their age group to see where their weight falls.

To help your child maintain a healthy weight, there are a few pieces of encouragement you can offer to help.
  • Encourage physical activity. Get them involved in sports or a recreational event. Your involvement and support will encourage them to stay active. 
  • Teach them about healthy and nutritious foods. If you teach them young, it can be a habit that will stick with them for life. 
While it is hard to watch over your child's nutritional decisions when they are at school, your support and encouragement will be just the thing to help them make healthier choices.

In our house, junk food is very limited, including sodas and fatty drinks. Plus, we limit our children to how long they can watch TV and play video games. Every night we head out as a family to play outside, even if we are just kicking a soccer ball.

How do you encourage your family to stay healthy and active? What are your thoughts on childhood obesity? 

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