Why Is Childhood Obesity Considered a Health Problem? What Can I Do As a Parent or Guardian to Help Prevent Childhood Overweight and Obesity? Want to Learn More? You’ve probably read about it in newspapers and seen it on the news: in the United States, the number of children with obesity has continued to rise over the past two decades. You may wonder: Why are doctors and scientists troubled by this trend? And as parents or other concerned adults, you may ask: What steps can we take to prevent obesity in our children? This page provides answers to some of the questions you may have, as well as resources to help you keep your family healthy. Why Is Childhood Obesity Considered a Health Problem? Children with obesity can be bullied and teased more than their normal weight peers. They are also more likely to suffer from social isolation, depression, and lower self-esteem. The effects of this can last into adulthood. Children with obesity are at higher risk for having other chronic health conditions and diseases, such as asthma, sleep apnea, bone and joint problems, and type 2 diabetes.

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Type 2 diabetes is increasingly being reported among children who are overweight. Onset of diabetes in children can lead to heart disease and kidney failure. Children with obesity also have more risk factors for heart disease like high blood pressure and high cholesterol than their normal weight peers. In a population-based sample of 5- to 17-year-olds, almost 60% of children who were overweight had at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD), and 25% had two or more CVD risk factors. Children with obesity are more likely to have obesity as adults. This can lead to lifelong physical and mental health problems. Adult obesity is associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and many types of cancers. What Can I Do As a Parent or Guardian to Help Prevent Childhood Overweight and Obesity? To help your child maintain a healthy weight, balance the calories your child consumes from foods and beverages with the calories your child uses through physical activity and normal growth. Remember that the goal for children who are overweight is to reduce the rate of weight gain while allowing normal growth and development.

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Children should NOT be placed on a weight reduction diet without the consultation of a health care provider. One part of balancing calories is to eat foods that provide adequate nutrition and an appropriate number of calories. You can help children learn to be aware of what they eat by developing healthy eating habits, looking for ways to make favorite dishes healthier, and reducing calorie-rich temptations. Encourage healthy eating habits. There’s no great secret to healthy eating. 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. Encourage your family to drink lots of water. Limit consumption of sugar and saturated fat. Remember that small changes every day can lead to a recipe for success! For more information about nutrition, visit ChooseMyPlate.govExternal and the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for AmericansExternal. Look for ways to make favorite dishes healthier. The recipes that you may prepare regularly, and that your family enjoys, with just a few changes can be healthier and just as satisfying.

Although everything can be enjoyed in moderation, reducing the calorie-rich temptations of high-fat and high-sugar, or salty snacks can also help your children develop healthy eating habits. Instead only allow your children to eat them sometimes, so that they truly will be treats! 1 cup carrots, broccoli, or bell peppers with 2 tbsp. Another part of balancing calories is to engage in an appropriate amount of physical activity and avoid too much sedentary time. Reducing stress and anxiety. Helping with weight management. Help kids stay active. Children should participate in at least 60 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity most days of the week, preferably daily. Remember that children imitate adults. Start adding physical activity to your own daily routine and encourage your child to join you. In addition to encouraging physical activity, help children avoid too much sedentary time. Although quiet time for reading and homework is fine, limit the time your children watch television, play video games, or surf the web to no more than 2 hours per day. Additionally, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not recommend television viewing for children aged 2 years or younger. Instead, encourage your children to find fun activities to do with family members or on their own that simply involve more activity.

And of course, I noted likes, dislikes, not tried. 2. Always, always, always, as a parent, feed yourself the food you are feeding your child. 3. Ask them what they want to eat. They need to always choose a fruit and veggie. I do this with both kids. And make the emphasis on not only choosing the fruit and veggie, but choosing something different each day. 4. Take them to the store! Even if they choose something you have never eaten, that is ok! Even if they don’t eat it themselves, that is ok! They took the initiative of choosing something new, that is a step in the right direction. As we were hanging out with our neighbors on Sunday night, the 3 year old, upon seeing TJ eating an apple, picked up an apple and started eating one himself. Shocked, my neighbor Julie said, “We are witnessing a miracle here! He never eats apples!

” Julie’s 3 year old loves my 8 year old son TJ, and loves to copy things he does. Seeing their friends, or mentors eating vegetables that your kids would normally not eat, is great motivation for them to try it. The best results I’ve seen here is when it is by their actual peers… by other children. It’s great for your kids to see you eating fruits and vegetables, but the powerful impact of their peers eating them is amazing. With my kids being older now (they are 19, 17, and 15), I can honestly and authentically say, it just takes time! In fact, for some foods, it took A LOT of time! My oldest son has had vegetables on his plate almost every night for the better part of his life. He didn’t start asking for salad until the last few years. He complained about it from the time he could talk, till he was about 9 years old.

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