Childhood Obesity is on the Rise (part 2 of 2)

Children not playing    •    One in five children in the United States is overweight.
    •    One extra soft drink a day gives a child a 60% greater chance of becoming obese.
    •    Children with obesity ages ten to thirteen are reported to have a 70% likelihood of obesity persisting into adult years.

    The problem of childhood obesity in the United States has grown considerably in recent years.  American children are getting heavier at an alarming rate, and between 16% and 33% of children and adolescents today are considered obese.  Childhood obesity (CO) can affect anyone.   It is not influenced by culture, income, education, or race.  One of the biggest culprits contributing to CO today is “liquid candy” (sugared drinks).  Sweetened drinks like soda and sugared fruit drinks are less filling than food, but can add hundreds of calories to a person’s diet in a single day.

    To make it simple, people put on weight because they take in more calories in a day than they burn off (calories in, calories out!).  You also do not want to be fooled by low-fat products.  Many of these products are high in sugar and sugar can be converted to fat when not burned off.

    So, what can be done to help fight CO?  One place to start is with a more healthy diet.  I am not proposing a strict diet, but rather making some better choices and in some instances reducing or eliminating poor choices.  For example, after playing outdoors, quench a child’s thirst with water.  There are tons of varieties of flavored water that not only taste good, but are good for you.  Try removing soda from your house and reserve it for special occasions.

    You also need to make sure your child is getting enough physical activity.  Have you ever stopped and compared the time your child spends in front of the TV versus the time doing physical activity?  It is important that you realize your role in this.  Be a good role model.  Remember that many children will emulate their parents’ behavior, good or bad.

    Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, do not browbeat or berate your child.  Most children realize if they have a weight problem and most likely are hearing about it from their peers.  Rather than trying to embarrass them into eating right and exercising, be supportive, helpful, and positive.  Help them make better choices and set realistic goals.  Childhood obesity is a sensitive subject that needs to be dealt with in a healthy, loving manner.  This is a problem that cannot and will not change over night, so be patient with your child and yourself.