Child obesity has become a serious problem around the world. Overweight children experience more health problems when they are young, and they are at risk for more problems as an adult. Read on to learn more about childhood obesity and what you can do about it.
Five risk factors influence childhood obesity. Children who load up on soft drinks, high-calorie processed foods, and sweets are likely to gain too much weight and miss out on nutrition. Kids who spend a lot of time in front of a screen (TV, computer, video game) don’t use up enough calories to offset bad eating habits.
Families with a history of obesity usually pass on the risk genetically to their children. Sometimes, children use food to comfort themselves when they experience stressful emotions and boredom.; A rushed family lifestyle increases the likelihood of parents choosing fast food over home-cooked meals.
Childhood obesity is determined by using a Body Mass Index (BMI) chart. This shows how your child compares to other children in his or her age range regarding height and weight.For example, if your son’s BMI is at 90th percentile, this means 90% of children in his age range have a lower BMI.
The healthy BMI range is from the 5th percentile through the 85th percentile. Children ranging between the 85th percentile and 95th percentile are at risk of becoming overweight. Any child at or above the 95th percentile is considered obese.
Children who are obese have more than weight troubles. They are more at-risk for many other health problems.Obese children are often bullied, leading to self-esteem problems and risk for depression. They may also develop poor social skills because of the increased stress and anxiety they experience.
Physical health risks include daytime sleepiness, poor quality of sleep, increased stress on joints, higher fatigue, and high blood pressure. Not only are obese children at a significantly higher risk for Type II diabetes and heart disease, these diseases can also begin at alarmingly early ages (20’s and 30’s). Occasionally, a thyroid problem or other rare condition may be the cause of childhood obesity.
One of the two key interventions involves eating smaller portions of more nutritious food.
Healthy snacks between meals can keep kids from overeating at mealtime. Provide raw fruit and vegetables, nuts, yogurt or cheese, and whole grain crackers. Be sure your child is not skipping any meals, especially breakfast.
Sometimes thirst masquerades as hunger: encourage your child to drink six glasses of water a day. Limit sweet drinks such as soda pop and juice drinks. Desserts and other treats may be offered once in a while and on special occasions. Avoid strict or crash diets. Gradual change encourages the development of established good habits.
Increase activity in easy fun ways. Make sure the entire family gets involved. Children are more likely to stick with a higher activity level if others around participate. Take regular walks, use the stairs, ride bikes, and park farther away in parking lots.
If your child is obese, start making changes today. The earlier you intervene with childhood obesity, the better your child’s health outlook becomes. Keep in mind that your child did not get overweight in just a day, so it will take time to see lasting positive change. Give your child the gift of a healthy lifestyle.