Childhood Obesity is a very concerning issue for today’s youth. The percentage of children who suffer from childhood obesity has tripled in the U.S. since 1970. About one in every five children (age 6-19) are obese. Obesity is defined as having excess body fat. Being overweight is defined as having excess body fat as well, however, it is based on height, muscles, bone and water, or even a combination. Body mass Index (BMI), is the commonly used tool to determine obesity vs. being overweight. When using the BMI tool in children and young adults (2-20), it does take into account both the age and sex.
Children with a BMI between the 85th – 95th percentile are considered overweight. Children at or above the 95th percentile are classified as obese.
As parents we must be aware of the immediate and long-term effects obesity has on our children physically, mentally and socially. Obesity puts our children at risk for chronic health issues such as; asthma, sleep apnea, diabetes, heart disease as well as bone and joint disorders. Children often suffer emotionally from being bullied or not feeling accepted; which long term may lead to social isolation and depression.
The cause of childhood obesity is not always directly caused by a poor diet. Some other contributing factors include: genetics, metabolism, social and individual physcology. Energy imbalance is a key factor behind the rising rate of child obesity. Our children consume more energy from food and beverages than the body actually needs for healthy functioning. This leads to weight gain.
Our children spend most of their time between home and school. It’s important that we help our children achieve and maintain good health. Here are a few small tips to help kick start that healthy lifestyle and help prevent childhood obesity:
- At least 60 min of physical activity daily ( even if it is split in 15 min increments)
- Less TV time
- Reduced sugar intake, both foods and drinks
- Proper daily water intake: 5 glasses, 5-8 yrs old, 7 glasses 9-12 yrs old, 8-10 glasses 13 yrs old +
- 8-9 hours of rest at night
- Peer based activities
Remember to consult your child’s pediatrician, and make routine follow ups. Let’s try to encourage good and healthy habits, by leading as an example. Always remember, BE HAPPY AND HEALTHY!