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Overweight Kids: How We Can Prevent This Problem?
- The number of overweight kids in the United States has been rising since the 1980’s
- Overweight children face significant health and emotional problems that could lead to serious ramifications in an adulthood
- A lack of activity by children is one of the main factors associated with this trend
- Improving a child’s eating habits without calorie restriction is a good way to prevent childhood obesity
While we know that adults are gaining weight and becoming obese at an alarming rate in the United States and other parts of the Western world, it might come as a surprise that the same is true for a large number of children. The percentage of obese children has risen dramatically over the last three decades and continues to increase. Currently, about 17% of all children under the age of 19 are overweight or obese. Thankfully, there are steps we can take to help and to prevent overweight kids.
The Dangers of the Weight
Overweight kids face some big health challenges in their lives. They are more likely to develop diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease at a younger age. There is also a good chance that they will continue to gain weight as they get older which could lead to mobility problems, back and knee strain, breathing problems, and a reduced quality of life.
On top of the health factors, children who are overweight have problems in their social lives as well. Some are picked on in schools because of their weight. They may also have low self-esteem and a poor self-image. All of these problems can cause life-long difficulties that children shouldn’t have to deal with.
The good news is this overweight health problems can be prevented, especially if parens are willing to make a change in their own lifestyle choices.
Activity & Obesity
One of the main reasons for the increase in overweight kids has been parental fear about allowing their children to play outside. While childhood kidnappings do happen, the risk to a child of being abducted by someone outside of their family is less than 1%. However, the risk of an overweight child growing up to be an obese adult is much, much higher.
Children, and adults, should get exercise daily. While 30 minutes of walking may be sufficient for parents, children can use a lot more. Programs are available through schools and other organizations that will involve kids in physical fitness and sports which will help them keep their weight down. Plus, if they see their parents being active, they are more likely to develop those same habits which can help them ward off obesity as they get older, too.
Nutrition & Obesity
Of course, overweight kids also tend to eat unhealthy foods. However, putting a child on a diet is never recommended. Because children are growing, restricting their calorie intake could be dangerous to their development. Instead, changes should be made in what they are eating and not necessarily in how many calories they consume. For example, some families eat fast food several times a week. Although convenient, fast food is higher in calories and fat than meals cooked at home, on average. Instead, families could choose healthier fast food items (grilled chicken instead of cheeseburgers, for instance) or could opt for slightly less convenient sit down restaurants where salads, vegetables, and other healthy choices are also served.
Limits should also be placed on candy, sweets, sugary sodas and beverages, and high fat snacks. Look for healthier alternatives and smaller serving sizes to help your child reign in his or her unhealthy eating habits. And, of course, model this behavior yourself. That makes lifestyle changes much easier for your child.
The information supplied in this article is not to be considered as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.
|Overweight Children25 Feb 2009