Fighting Childhood Obesity
Childhood obesity has reached epidemic proportions in the United States, where junk food and sedentary lifestyles permeate the fabric of society. Research estimates that an astounding 1 out of 3 U.S. children is now considered overweight or obese. To curb the trend, health experts are urging parents to take preventative steps that promote better health both in the short- and long-term.
What You Can Do
Overweight children face numerous challenges related to social stigmas and potential health issues. Unfortunately, these problems often persist for years down the road. According to at least one study, 80 percent of overweight pre-teens and teens were obese in their mid-twenties. To prevent your child from suffering a similar fate, implement the following strategies:
Get Your Kids Moving
The National Association for Sport and Physical Education and American Heart Association recommend that teenagers get at least four hours of exercise every week.
Limit TV and Video Games
A Kaiser Family Foundation report found that kids over the age of eight spend an average of six hours in front of a screen. That's four hours more than the American Academy of Pediatrics' recommendation of a maximum two hours per day.
Limit Sugary Drinks
Because they contain nothing but sugar and calories, sweetened drinks drastically increase a child's risk of obesity. In fact, research suggests that every 12-ounce serving of soda increases a kid's risk of becoming obese by about 60 percent. Unfortunately, because they also contain lots of sugar and calories, fruit drinks aren't any better. To minimize risk, opt for water or milk instead.
By helping to regulate metabolism and curb appetite, breakfast can play an important role in helping children maintain healthy weights.
Studies have linked insufficient sleep with increased weight gain in both children and adults.
Family meals can help you better monitor your child's eating habits, while helping to bring you closer at the same time.
Educate Your Kids
Most children have no concept of calories, healthy fats and nutritional content of food. To help them make better choices, sit down and explain why some foods are better options than others.
Focusing on Health Rather than Weight
When trying to improve your child's weight, be sure to focus on positive incentives related to health. About 1 million American men and 10 million American women suffer from some type of eating disorder. With this in mind, it's important to act carefully when attempting to control your child's eating, or you could cause them to adopt unhealthy habits.