The Effects of Childhood Obesity
According to the New York City Department of Health, 43% of school age children are overweight. 43%! The predominant cause of childhood obesity is eating too many calories and not getting enough physical activity. Parents, educators and citizens, have been making great strides to correct this problem but it still isn't enough. Obesity in children is so prevalent that it is the cause of many serious health problems. A large percentage of these children will grow up to be obese adults and the list of health complications will get greater.
Complications of Childhood Obesity
Type 2 Diabetes
High Cholesterol and high blood pressure
low self esteem
Asthma and other breathing problems
Early puberty or onset of menstruation
Where can you find help for Childhood Obesity?
The Children's Aid Society has a program called Go!Healthy, designed to educate families about healthy cooking and eating.
The Mayo Clinic has a program dedicated to Childhood Obesity, filled with all types of facts, suggestions and articles.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also has a wealth of available information.
The Benefits of a Healthy Diet for Children
- Increased self-esteem
- Bone strengthening
- Decreased blood pressure
- Reduced stress and anxiety
- Forming good eating habits for life
How do we encourage healthy eating habits in Children?
- Make favorite dishes healthier! (Substitute low fat or non-fat products)
- Remove calorie laden or high fat temptations.
- Serve realistic portions.
- Cut back on sugar sweetened bevarages and give your family plenty of water.
- Offer fresh fruits and vegetables as snacks.
- Limit sugar and saturated fats
- Serve lean meats and proteins
Developing Healthy Physical Habits
A healthy diet is still only part of what children need to maintain a healthy weight. They need physical activity. One hour a day in gym class is not enough. Walking around the mall isn't going to do it. Kids need to be active.
- Limit their TV and computer time and get them moving!
- Participate in physical activities with them
- If feasible, suggest a walk TO the mall!
- Take a frisbee or a ball and play catch.
- Dance! Put on some music and dance. Be silly. Have fun!
How can you control your Child's Eating Habits out of the home?
This is always a bit more difficult. When your child is at school or at someone else's home, there may be temptations that he/she wouldn't have at home. There are many different schools of thought on this. In my opinion, unless your child is allergic to a particular food, don't sweat it. If you have taught your child healthy eating habits, he/she will make sound decisions. If they are eating well balanced meals at home, a rare candy bar or chips will not hurt them. you may even find them bringing their own healthy snacks to share!
Adapting a Healthy Lifestyle as a Family
In our rush and bustle world, many of us have a tendency to grab what's easy, fast and fulfilling. While that may solve the need for immediate gratification, it will probably cause us heartache (literally) down the road. If you and your family have been living this type of lifestyle for awhile, it may be a little more difficult to get everyone on board when making changes. I suggest you talk to your kids, present them with facts and statistics. Allow your children to be part of the solution. Let them make decisions about how you are going to change your habits. The more involved they become in the planning, the more ownership and accountability they will feel. In addition, they will probably have some great ideas!