The percentage of children and adolescents affected by obesity in the United States has more than tripled since the 1970s. Obesity, which is classified as having excess body fat, has been a growing epidemic across America. Obesity is measured using Body Mass Index (BMI), a screening tool that assesses weight status. In order to prevent childhood obesity, you need to understand it.
Keeping reading for more information on childhood obesity and how we parents can make a difference.
Causes of Childhood Obesity
Childhood obesity in the United States is at an all-time high. America seems to be the most affected, but why? Over a 30 year period, several factors have changed and inhibited the obesity epidemic.
For instance, one of the causes of childhood obesity is the frequency in which Americans go out to eat. Most restaurants serve dishes high in fat content and of much greater proportions than needed. This results in more calories and an increase in caloric density. Excess caloric intake leads to fat gain. If your child is consuming more calories than she is burning, she is bound to gain unhealthy fat.
Another factor of childhood obesity is the portion sizes we have adopted. In other countries, one of our meals is about 3 of theirs. For example, the portion size of rice is about one-third cup. However, when you’re eating out, or even at home, ⅓ cup of rice seems like nothing. We pile on the rice, the extra carbs, and the extra calories without even realizing we’re possible doubling, or tripling, the serving size.
Children who drink their calories are also at risk for childhood obesity. Soda, fruits drinks, juice boxes, and sports drinks all have an excess amount of calories and sugar. These drinks are the main calorie source in our teen’s diets.
There are many more contributing factors to childhood obesity in the United States. The sedentary lifestyle, the absence of playing outdoors, bad quality of school lunches, soda consumption, and the lack of physical education requirements are just a few more.
How to Prevent Childhood Obesity
In order to prevent childhood obesity, the whole family has to participate. Eat out less often, pack your children’s lunches, provide healthy snacking alternatives, and even let them enjoy the classic chip and candy bar combo every now and then. Diets never work, it has to be a lifestyle.
Risk Factors For Childhood Obesity
Obesity at such a young age poses several health risks. Most of which are very serious and should be taken seriously. There is nothing a parent dislikes more than seeing their child ill. Here are the main risk factors:
- Insulin resistance
- Elevated cholesterol
- Liver disease
- Joint problems
- Menstrual issues
- Gallbladder disease
- Sleep apnea
Treating Childhood Obesity
It’s important that your child knows that this is not only about being physically healthy, but emotionally healthy as well. If your child is overweight, family support is a must. As a family effort, eat less sugar, exercise more, be less sedentary in your daily lives, all together. This will prevent your child from feeling singled out or ashamed. If your feel it’s necessary, a doctor can provide a treatment plan for your child’s diet and exercise routine that the whole family can take part in.
Moms, this article is not to scare you into forcing your kids to be healthy. It’s about creating a healthy and well-balanced lifestyle that they can carry into adulthood. Childhood obesity is an epidemic in America, and we parents need to take the proper steps to change that. Check out our Food and Recipes blog for healthy meal ideas.