Here are a few health issues that most people probably don’t think about when it comes to children’s health and childhood obesity:
- Cardiovascular disease
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Bone and joint problems
- Sleep apnea
- Poor self-esteem
- Social and psychological issues
And yet, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these health problems are all highly possible in children and adolescents who are overweight.
How scary might it be to visit a doctor’s office and hear that you have one or more of the conditions listed above? Pretty scary!
Now think about how it might feel to hear these diagnoses regarding one or more of your children? Even scarier, right?
These health problems are very real possibilities for young people who are overweight. In fact, the CDC reports that childhood obesity is, indeed, a very real thing. They provide some sobering statistics to drive home that point.
“In the United States,” the CDC writes, “the percentage of children and adolescents affected by obesity has more than tripled since the 1970s. Data from 2015–2016 show that nearly 1 in 5 school-age children and young people aged 6 to 19 years in the United States has obesity.”
According to Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, “95 percent of people with eating disorders are between the ages 12 and 25.”
That’s a huge number of young people suffering from either obesity or eating disorders — or both. These youths and young adults may develop health issues that stay with them for the rest of their lives if these afflictions aren’t gotten under control.
So what can be done about this issue?
Childhood Obesity: Potential Solutions
Leading by example is a great start. One can be a positive role model in the eyes of the young.
For example, choose kind words when speaking to children — or even about yourself for that matter. Saying things like “Hey, this family is going on a diet because we are all fat” is not positive. So many children hear this, and the sting of it does not go away.
Consider a personal story.
When I was in early high school, right around 14 years old, I was a very competitive swimmer. Because of that, I fortunately never had to really worry about my weight. But I loved Fudge Rounds from Little Debbie! I got a box every time we went to the grocery store, and I ate them.
A lot of them, actually.
Anyway, one day I was in a swimsuit getting ready to go outside, and I remember my mom saying, “Maybe it’s time for you to lay off those Fudge Rounds.”
My mom — one of the most supportive people in my life and, at that time in my life, a major role model — said that to me. I’m in my 30s now, and I can remember that moment as if it happened yesterday.
From that day forward, I have never touched another Little Debbie snack because of those words.
Now, I’m sure my mother did not mean it in a bad way. But that does not change the way it made me feel.
Therefore, we should always think before we speak to our children and be careful what we say in front of them. They hear it all — and they really take it to heart.
If your children or adolescents are already struggling with weight, take it from a perspective of getting healthier and not necessarily from a weight loss perspective. Adolescents and children are very sensitive and can develop eating disorders or disordered eating at a very young age.
Let’s focus on the positive aspects of child care. It’s relatively simple to instill good habits one small move and one day at a time. For example:
- Take a family walk after dinner.
- Practice whatever sport they are currently in. Join in the fun in the backyard or at the park.
- If your kids are at practice, get out of the car and go be present. Whether you are just standing there or you are getting some walking in, they see this and it is positive.
- Stretch while watching television or do 20 jumping jacks during commercial breaks. Try to get in 60 minutes of activity per day.
- Go swimming, play tennis, bicycling, play tag, basketball, skating, laser tag, golfing, karate, gymnastics, and more. Whatever everyone enjoys and can participate in.
- Have your kids help make dinner. It’s sometimes easier to get children to eat healthy food if they help prepare it.
- Let your kids help pick out recipes.
- Buy water instead of soda. Limit fruit juices, too, especially those with added sugars. They can lead to weight gain and make it difficult to maintain a healthy weight.
- Buy carrots instead of chips.
- Buy fruits and vegetables instead of sweets
- Limit portion sizes of unhealthy snacks, especially those with lots of saturated fats
- Reduced screen time for TV and electronic devices
These are just a few of the things that we can do to get young children on a path to a lifetime of being physically active and having healthy eating habits. Lots of exercise, activity, play and positive reinforcement can help prevent obesity in early childhood.
As adults seeking ways to prevent children from being overweight, or obesity becoming the defining characteristic of their lives, we should look into as many resources as possible. To help prevent childhood health problems, review the latest info from respected organizations, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Let us know your thoughts! Get in touch with WeightWise today with any questions or concerns.
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