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How parents and childcare providers can help combat childhood obesity

Posted by on in Primary Care
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140512osm obesity finalMore and more children are becoming victims of the obesity epidemic in the United States. And being obese as a child makes you twice as likely to become an obese adult.

Obesity is defined as having excess body fat that makes you 20 percent or more above your ideal body weight. Children who struggle with obesity can suffer both physical and psychological problems.

What can parents and childcare providers do to help children combat obesity? You can help children stay healthy by encouraging physical activity and offering healthy meals and snacks.

 

In addition:

  • Be a role model. Show children how to engage in a healthy lifestyle by eating well and being active in front of them.
  • Be active with your child. Find physical activities that you and your child can do together. Establish a time to consistently engage in these activities.
  • Eat less fast food; cook at home more. According to pediatricians, eating healthy, well-balanced meals helps combat childhood obesity. There are many websites that provide tips on cooking at home.
  • Limit sedentary activities. This includes nonactive video games and watching TV.

In prior blog posts, we explored topics such as diabetes and how much exercise is enough to make a difference.

Here are some figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years.
  • The percentage of children aged 6–11 years in the United States considered obese increased from 7% in 1980 to nearly 18% in 2012. Similarly, the percentage of adolescents ages 12–19 who were obese increased from 5% to nearly 21% over the same period.
  • In 2012, more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese. Childhood obesity can lead to health problems, such as:
  • Pre-diabetes and diabetes 
  • Elevated cholesterol and triglycerides
  • Sleep apnea
  • Psychological problems, such as poor self-esteem and depression
  • Early puberty
  • Early joint degeneration, especially of the spine

The American Academy of Pediatrics is an excellent resource to learn more about the challenges involved in dealing with childhood obesity.

On a national level, first lady Michelle Obama has launched a campaign against childhood obesity called “Let’s Move!” At letsmove.gov, you will find facts and information on nutrition, physical activities and simple steps to success.

Give your children the best chance for a healthy future.

Independent and progressive, Oak Street Medical provides a unique combination of complementary health care services that includes Primary Care, Diabetes and Mental Health, as well as Allergy, Asthma and Immunology through Oregon Allergy Associates.