Transforming the Obesity Epidemic
Obesity is a growing problem in the US. With the average lifespan dropping once again, we must do everything we can to ensure a healthy body and mind in our growing children. As this year ends and a new begins, we consider what we can do differently or better. The most common resolution is to lose weight, but what if you are a kid? How do you safely diet as a child of today? Find out in this week’s blog.
According to a study released this month, there is a critical time in youth for preventing obesity as an adult. The study found that efforts should be made to resolve childhood obesity issues before six years of age for best results. It was shown to be more difficult to resolve obesity issues as children age. This is important for parents to know because the health of the child starts with them.
Teaching not only healthy eating habits, but staying physically active is essential to long-term health.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) warns against dieting for children. They found five leading factors associated with obesity.
Five Leading Factors Associated with Obesity
- Dieting – Clearly a risk factor for obesity, studies have shown that teens who diet are up to three times more likely to become overweight and up to one and a half times more likely to develop binge eating disorders.
- Weight Talk – Stop talking about fat and skinny and instead talk about healthy. As a mom of a lean middle schooler who has been called skinny (not as a compliment), we talk to her about being strong and healthy. The importance of having a strong, healthy body that can do all kinds of things has overshadowed any thoughts of skinny versus overweight.
- Weight Teasing – No one likes to get teased. Developing children are highly sensitive to teasing. When teasing is about weight, there becomes a greater likelihood that they will develop eating disorders and an unhealthy relationship with food.
- Family Meals – Today’s busy lifestyle makes family meals something difficult to come by for many families. Do not let family meals be a rarity in your home. Families that eat together have been shown to have a decreased incidence of obesity and eating disorders. Prepare meals together whenever possible and choose minimally processed well-balanced foods. Each meal should have all of the food groups represented. A colorful plate of food is a good thing!
- Body Image – Having a healthy body image is a challenge for most adolescents. You have the ability to change that by promoting a lifestyle of health instead of weight. By planting seeds of health throughout their life and avoiding talk of fat or the need to lose weight (for you or the child) you teach them the importance of acceptance.
The obesity epidemic is something that can truly be changed through proactive parenting. While it is not always easy to change habits, the investment in your child’s well being is well worth the cost. If you have concerns about your child’s weight, please schedule an appointment with one of our pediatric providers today. We are here to help you raise a healthy, well-adjusted child.
For more tips on obesity prevention in your family, visit: https://healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/obesity/Pages/Obesity-Prevention-AAP-Policy-Explained.aspx