Today, about one in three American kids and teens are suffering from childhood obesity, making it the number one health concern among parents in the United States, topping both drug abuse and smoking. Obesity is estimated to cause 112,000 deaths per year in the United States alone.
Statistics show that one third of all children born in the year 2000 are expected to develop diabetes during their lifetime. In a sample of 5 to 17-year-olds, 70% of obese youth had at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Childhood obesity has also been associated with a broad range of health problems that previously weren’t seen until adulthood such as:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Metabolic syndrome
- High cholesterol and high blood pressure
- Sleep disorders
- Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)
- Hormone Imbalances
Many factors, usually working in combination, increase your child's risk of becoming overweight. However, childhood obesity is preventable!
Taking Preventative Steps as a Family
Children learn by example — improving the diet and exercise habits of your entire family is one of the best strategies to combat childhood obesity. Making small but permanent changes in eating and lifestyle habits may work better than a series of short-term changes that can't be sustained. Here are some steps you can take:
Encourage healthy eating habits.
Choose to eat more fruits, veggies, whole-grains, lean meats, poultry, fish, lentils and beans instead of highly processed foods.
Help your kids understand the benefits of being physically active.
Strong bones and joints, decreasing blood pressure, reducing stress and anxiety, increasing self-esteem, and maintaining a healthy weight.
Lead by example.
You can set a great example! Start adding physical activity to your own daily routine and encourage your family to join you.
Reduce sedentary time
Encourage your family members to enjoy fun activities outdoors such as, bike riding, visiting a local park, playing hide and seek, or going on a walk.
Remember, childhood obesity is preventable! Together, families and communities, can spread awareness and join the fight.
Sources: http://www.letsmove.gov/sites/letsmove.gov/files/TaskForce_on_Childhood_Obesity_May2010_FullReport.pdf, https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/obesity/facts.htm, http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/childhood-obesity/basics/causes/con-20027428