The Truth About Childhood Obesity

September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. Childhood obesity is a serious, growing epidemic, cutting across all categories of race, ethnicity, family income and locale. Obesity rates tripled in the past 30 years, a trend that means, for the first time in our history, American children may face a shorter expected lifespan than their parents. Additionally, we spend $150 billion every year to treat obesity-related conditions, such as diabetes, sleep apnea, heart disease, high blood pressure as well as high cholesterol – childhood health care costs are rapidly increasing that number.

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Alarmingly, the obesity problem is starting at an even earlier age, with researchers estimating that 21.2 percent of children only ages 2 to 5 already obese or overweight, a percentage that has more than doubled during the past three decades.

Processed foods, sugar, and sedentary lifestyle are some of the key issues facing children today. All of these are major factors in the alarmingly stark facts regarding this epidemic.  We have all the statistics – what practical ways can parents and caregivers help encourage healthy habits at an early age? One way is by try to develop an appreciation of healthy foods. 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.
  • Try substituting fruit for snacks and limit ALL PROCESSED FOODS.
  • Encourage exercise and limit television and computer time.
  • Get outdoors with your kids. Make healthy fun

There are no easy answers when it comes to the complex issues surrounding childhood obesity. Talk to your child and talk to his or her doctor. Make an action plan. Make sure your child knows they are loved and accepted for who they are while teaching them the importance of a healthier lifestyle.

For more information on childhood obesity go to http://www.coam-month.org/.

 

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