Childhood Obesity Awareness
Obesity means having too much body fat. It’s different from being overweight, which means weighing too much. Both terms mean that a person’s weight is greater than what’s considered healthy for their height. Childhood obesity is a major public health problem because:
- Children with obesity are at higher risk for other chronic health conditions and diseases, such as asthma, sleep apnea, bone and joint problems, and type 2 diabetes. They also have more risk factors for heart disease – like high blood pressure and high cholesterol – than their normal-weight peers.
- Children with obesity can be bullied and teased more than their normal-weight peers. They are also more likely to suffer from social isolation, depression, and lower self-esteem.
- Children with obesity are more likely to have obesity as adults. This can lead to lifelong physical and mental health problems. Adult obesity is associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and many types of cancers. Children grow at different rates, so it isn’t always easy to know when a child has obesity or is overweight. Ask your health care provider to check whether your child’s weight and height are in a healthy range.
To help your child maintain a healthy weight, balance the calories your child consumes from foods and beverages with the calories your child uses through physical activity and normal growth.
Remember that the goal for children who are overweight is to reduce the rate of weight gain while allowing normal growth and development. Children should NOT be placed on a weight reduction diet without the consultation of a health care provider.
Encourage Healthy Eating Habits
There’s no great secret to healthy eating. To help your children and family develop healthy eating habits:
• Provide plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole-grain products.
• Include low-fat or non-fat milk or dairy products.
• Choose lean meats, poultry, fish, lentils, and beans for protein.
• Serve reasonably sized portions.
• Encourage your family to drink lots of water.
• Limit sugar-sweetened beverages.
• Limit consumption of sugar and saturated fat.
Help Kids Stay Active
Children should participate in at least 60 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity most days of the week, preferably daily. Remember that children imitate adults. Start adding physical activity to your own daily routine and encourage your child to join you.
- Brisk walking
- Playing tag
- Jumping rope
- Playing soccer
Reduce Sedentary Time
In addition to encouraging physical activity, help children avoid too much sedentary time. Although quiet time for reading and homework is fine, limit the time your children spend watching television, playing video games, or surfing the web to no more than two hours per day. Additionally, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not recommend television viewing for children aged two years or younger. Instead, encourage your children to find fun activities to do with family members or on their own that simply involve more physical activity.
Remember that small changes every day can lead to success.
Fruits and Veggies: How Much Is Enough?
If you’re like the majority of Americans, you’re most likely not eating enough fruits and vegetables. “Fruits & Veggies – More Matters,” a national health observance that occurs every September, wants to change that.
Fruits and vegetables contain essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other naturally occurring substances that may help prevent chronic diseases.
How Much Is Enough?
According to MyPlate, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s website for healthy eating, the recommended adult daily servings for fruits and vegetables are: