Childhood Obesity Is Preventable

The number of overweight children has nearly tripled in the last 30 years. According to the Centers For Disease Control, obesity among children ages 6 to 11 years has increased from 6.5% in 1980 to 19.6% in 2008. Obesity in children ages 12 to 19 years increased from 5.0% to 18.1%.Causes of childhood obesityWhile some cases of childhood obesity can be linked to genetics or hormonal imbalances, the majority of obesity cases can be blamed on lifestyle and poor nutritional choices and are almost always preventable. Childhood obesity is caused when children consume too many calories while not getting enough physical activity. According to the CDC, children ages 8-18 years spend an average of 7.5 hours a day watching television, playing video games and accessing their computers. Of those hours, 4.5 of them are spent watching television. TV viewing is a major contributing factor in lack of physical activity, but that is not the only way television is fattening our children. Fast food advertisements, animated candy commercials and catchy soda pop songs are influencing our children to want to eat and drink their products to be happy and carefree like those they see on the commercials.Another cause of obesity in youth is the convenience that fast food gives to hectic schedules. Children today have busier lifestyles than they did 30 years ago. The combination of school, sports and extracurricular activities leaves little to no time to make healthy food choices. Combine that with parents busy work and household schedules and you’re left with no choice but to order that meal deal, just so you can stay on schedule.Ways to prevent childhood obesityWhile it is always easier said than done, there are realistic things you can do to prevent your child from becoming overweight. In order to keep your children from falling prey to obesity, you must be involved in their decision making when it comes to meals and snack. Parents are the number one most influential thing in a child life. Without your input, your children are left to fend for themselves and often times are influenced by their friends or television. Here are some tips on how you can help your child to maintain a healthy weight:
Limit TV/computer time to no more than 1 hour a day.
Wash and cut up fruits and vegetables to have on hand for snacking.
Don’t buy drinks high in sugar. Encourage them to drink water or fruit juices.
Turn the TV off and eat dinner together at a table.
Let your children help prepare the meals.
Pack your child’s lunches for school along with a prepared afternoon snack.
Meet at the park to play ball or just go for a walk together.
Don’t be afraid to tell your child no for the sake of their health.
Another way to improve your child’s health habits is to lead by example. Children often times will unintentionally follow in the footsteps of their parents habits. If you eat junk food, they eat junk food. If you watch what you eat, they will at least stop and question what they’re eating. You could make it a fun project for the whole family to do a complete overhaul on your activity and eating habits. Allow every member in the family to give his or her input on the matter and praise their ideas. It may seem awkward and unfamiliar at first, but it will become habit after time.Alternative methodsTalk with your child’s doctor about alternative methods to losing weight. In some cases an option may be to add diet pills to your child’s routine. Of course this would only apply to older children in their teenage years and can only be done under a doctors supervision. Regardless of your chosen method, it is important to teach your children at a young age how to maintain a healthy weight and make good choices in the foods they eat.

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