National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

Chocolate, chips, and cookies… oh yum! With all the options for a tasty treat it’s no wonder we overindulge. Unfortunately, as good as these treats may taste, they are not good for your body. September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness month, and now that summer is over and school is back in session, you and your family are starting to get back into your normal routines. This makes it a great time to look at what we feed our children as well as ourselves. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the past 30 years childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents. There is a difference between being overweight and being obese. The CDC defines overweight as having excess body weight for a particular height from fat, muscle, bone, water, or a combination of these factors; where as obesity is defined as having excess body fat.

What Causes Childhood Obesity?

Childhood obesity is a complex health issue, and there is not just one reason or factor that causes it. The main causes of excess weight in children are similar to the causes in adults, which includes behavior and genetics. Behaviors include diet, physical activity level, and medication to name a few. The society we live in also contributes factors such as environment, education, and food marketing.

Obesity Health Risks:

Children who are obese have a greater risk of:

  • High blood pressure
  • Increased risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Breathing problems
  • Joint problems
  • Fatty liver disease
  • Psychological stress such as depression, behavioral problems, and issues in school
  • Low self-esteem
  • Impaired social, physical, and emotional functioning

Tips to Prevent Childhood Obesity

1.Encourage healthy eating habits

  • Serve reasonably sized portions
  • Limit sugar-sweetened beverages, sugar, sodium and saturated fat
  • Keep a variety of healthy foods around the house including fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, whole grains, and lean meats
  • Practice eating a healthy breakfast daily
  • Promote healthy snacking
  • Encourage your family to drink lots of water
  2.Remove high calorie temptations

    Limit high-fat and high-sugar or salty snacks to help your children develop healthy eating habits. These snacks are 100 calories or less!

  • 1 medium size apple
  • 1 medium size banana
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup grapes
  • 1 cup carrots, broccoli, or bell peppers with 2 tbsp. hummus
3.Help your kids stay active

Children and teens should participate in at least 60 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity every day of the week if possible. Set an example. Add daily physical activity to your routine and have your kids join you! Here are some examples of activities:

  • Brisk walking
  • Jump rope
  • Swimming
  • Playing tag
  • Dancing
  • Jogging
  4.Discourage too many inactive hobbies
  • Limit the time your child is allowed to watch TV, play video games, and surf the Internet
  • Help your child come up with fun alternatives to these hobbies, and again, you can join them!
  5.Help your kids understand the benefits of being physically active

Teach them the great health benefits such as:

  • Reducing stress and anxiety
  • Strengthening bone
  • Decreasing blood pressure
  • Increasing self-esteem
  • Helping with weight management
You as a parent can encourage success! Show your children the importance of healthy eating by eating healthy yourself. You can also show your children the importance of healthy eating by allowing them to help with meal prep. In regards to physical activity, make it fun! If your child is having fun getting active, they will want to do it on their own! Remember, often the key to success is small, but permanent changes that can be sustained. If you want to learn more about childhood obesity, and how you can prevent it, please visit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.