The Skinny on Childhood Obesity
One in six children in the United States has been diagnosed with obesity. In North Carolina, childhood obesity rates are continuing to climb. According to the State of Obesity, current data shows over 13% of 10 to 17-year-olds and 15% of high school kids being obese and 15% of 2 to 4-year-olds are obese as well. Adults in NC are among some of the most obese in the country at over 32%. Change is absolutely necessary.
Childhood obesity is a major health problem. Not only does it impact children on a psychosocial level, which can lead to depression and lower self-esteem, it also increases the risk for chronic health conditions and diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, asthma and sleep apnea.
Obesity often runs in the family and therefore change must begin at home. As caregivers, we have the power to develop our kids’ taste for the food and drinks they consume. Here are some tips to help.
Six ways to prevent or treat obesity at home
- Start drinking water. Cut out sodas and limit juice and other sugary beverages and replace them with water. Make sweet drinks something to have on special occasions rather than every day.
- Read labels. Pay attention to the ingredients in the foods your family consumes. Start buying products with as few ingredients as possible. Over-processed snacks are not only packed with fat and calories, but they are also lacking the nutrients growing bodies need. Snacks should never be a meal replacement.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables. Purchase pre-cut fruit and vegetables or prepare them yourself so they are ready for snacking. Create a drawer or section of the refrigerator that is dedicated to the kids and fill it with foods you approve of. Good examples include Greek yogurt, cheese sticks, baby carrots, sugar snap peas, berries, and sliced apples.
- Get exercise. Every human should receive physical activity daily. Children and adolescents should get 60 minutes of physical activity daily, most of which should be moderate to vigorous aerobic activity.
- Get enough sleep. Late bedtimes (after 9 pm) have been shown to increase the incidence of obesity in children and adolescents. Getting less than the recommended amount of sleep also increases the risk of weight gain and obesity.
- Understand BMI. Obesity in children is calculated based on the CDC growth charts for children and teens. Check out the BMI calculator for children and teens by clicking here.
While some people are genetically predisposed to obesity, parents and caregivers have the opportunity to shape the way children perceive food and a healthy lifestyle. Be a good example and show kids the importance of eating healthy and getting enough exercise and sleep. If you are concerned about obesity in your home and are an established Rainbow Pediatrics’ patient, schedule an appointment with their pediatric provider today. Alternately, Laurie Powers, PA-C is a nutritional medicine expert and can provide solutions to help your family overcome childhood obesity.