Childhood Obesity Is A Solvable Problem

I don’t know if childhood obesity is “rampant” or an “epidemic”. What I DO know is that it does not have to happen to our children.

However, just to put things in perspective, over a recent 30 year period measured by the National Health And Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a study conducted every 10 years to survey the dietary habits and health of U. S. residents, certain changes in childhood obesity came to light. The following increases in numbers of overweight and obese children, as determined by body mass index measurements (BMI), occurred.

*Numbers of children aged 2-5 years increased from 5.0% to 13.9%

*Numbers of children aged 6-11 years increased from 4.0% to 18.8%

*Numbers of children aged 12-19 years increased from 6.1% to 17.4%

CAUSES OF CHILDHOOD OBESITY

As with adults, the simple answer for the individual child is that when children take in more calories than they burn, they gain weight, i.e. become overweight and obese. However, children are influenced by societal factors, just as adults are, but they have less discretionary power to evaluate and decide as to the value of given nutritional and lifestyle choices, even in those cases where they are aware that a choice exists. Additionally, children are strongly influenced by what they are shown and taught by their elders, caregivers, siblings, and parents.

While it would be great if society would make an important enough issue of childhood obesity to turn the trend around, it is commonly the parents who will have the most influence for better or for worse on this issue.

Some common contributing factors to childhood obesity are:

1. Genetics: It has to be conceded that no matter what action parents, society, or the children themselves take, the genetic hand that the child was dealt will have a great impact on the outcome of any choices whether good or bad. However, the good news is that many negative genetic factors can be overcome to at least some extent by wise choices, which we will discuss in a few minutes.

2. Calorie Intake: As with adults, the more calories ingested, the more likely the path to obesity…particularly in the area of such empty calories as sodas and candy sweetened with sugar or corn syrup, for example. Other questionable choices are high fat snacks chosen in place of lower fat, more nutritionally dense snacks.

3. Calories Burned: Children used to burn calories by playing outside with other children, riding bicycles, and doing chores, just to name a few options. Today’s kids often spend hours in front of a computer (like this big kid), only moving to go to the bathroom, get a snack, or to go sit in front of the TV for a few more hours.

4. Parental Influences: This can take many negative forms, not the least of which is the sedentary behavior exhibited by many parents. This trend can be seen in the rising numbers of overweight and obese adults. One of the most lasting and influential impacts on a child will be the examples set by the parents.

In parents’ defense, let it be acknowledged that in today’s family, it is often necessary for both parents to work outside the home. This, combined with the prevalence of fast food, perceived lack of time, stress, and a common lack of knowledge, and/or misconceptions about subjects such as exercise and healthy eating habits makes it easy for parents to provide a completely wrong example for their children, contributing to the children’s’ obesity problems while believing that they are doing everything they can to provide healthy meals and a good home.

RESULTS OF CHILDHOOD OBESITY

If obesity in childhood were something that would end when the child becomes an adult, it would still be a problem. While many still believe the main results are something so apparently simple as low self-esteem, depression, or poor social interactivity, or that the child will simply “grow out of it” there are results more deadly to be concerned about.

Childhood obesity causes and results usually carry over into adulthood predisposing the adult to such problems as higher risks for heart disease, cancer, debilitating effects of arthritis, diabetes, sleep apnea, strokes, and high blood pressure to name a few. Childhood obesity will also commonly result in an earlier onset of these diseases and conditions than would be found in an unfit adult with a fit childhood.

However, for me, one of the worst facts is that these conditions are being seen more and more in the children themselves. They are not waiting for adulthood to begin their attacks.

So, what can be done?

SOLUTIONS FOR CHILDHOOD OBESITY

As with adults, the bottom line answer for obese and overweight children is the effective combination of two important lifestyle choices:

1. Regular Exercise

2. Healthy Nutrition

Since parents are generally the most important people in the child’s world, they are the ones who need to accept the first responsibility for turning this problem around, at least in their own children. Some steps they can take are simple yet effective.

They can encourage more outside play, for example. While enrolling a child in some sort of fitness activity such as gymnastics or martial arts can have all sorts of benefits for the child, an active day is the quickest and easiest “exercise” fix. Chores can be assigned, children can be encouraged to walk or bicycle when practical rather than waiting for a ride from Mom or Dad. TV and computer time can be limited, or even “bought” with activity.

While nutrition is a broad subject, basic nutritional choices often come down to “good” versus “bad”. For example, what’s better for your child, a slice of apple pie or an apple? This is not to say that children should always be denied treats, but they should be doled out responsibly, and healthy alternatives should become commonplace in the home.

Last, but not least, few things will help a child improve in health, fitness, happiness or anything else more than a parent’s good example. They ARE watching, you know, and they will behave as you behave…sooner or later!

So, get up off the couch, grab a glove and go play catch with your child…or take them for a walk or a swim. Patch the bicycle tire, or have them take turns with you mowing part of the yard or raking leaves. Some kids are aching to have their parents do SOMETHING with them.

Who knows?

You might even find you are dropping a few pounds yourself!

Childhood Obesity – 10 Mind Blowing Facts

I know that when you are studying obesity facts, it’s quite shocking all by itself. However, you must remember that knowledge with action really is power. You are getting ready to learn some information that can actually save your life or your love one’s, if you take what you are about to learn seriously. Once you know the signs to look for, you can begin working on a solution.

  1. Whenever you hear someone talk about hypertension, you automatically think about an adult being diagnosed with it. Well, I have some interesting news for you. This could not be farther from truth. Hypertension is definitely one of the risks of obesity in children as well.
  2. Here’s another shocker for you. Did you not know that when your child is overweight, it greatly increases the chances of them being diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes? As a matter of fact, there are a lot of these children already in pre-diabetes status.
  3. How’s your child diet on a daily basis? Because even though a poor diet is not the only cause of this problem. It is certainly one of the major contributing factors. You know the old saying, you are what you eat. Well, I can’t think of a better phrase to use when it comes to what you allow your kids to put into their bodies. Please monitor their diets!
  4. How does your child feel about themselves? I’m sure you maybe wondering why I’m asking this question. Well, it is important to know that if your child is having some peer pressure problems or not feeling good about themself. This could lead to overeating. They will sometimes use food to comfort themselves.
  5. Yes, genetics and hormones do play a role to your children’s weight. But don’t think for once that it’s the only thing that leads to an obese child. There are many obesity effects that we can look at. But you must know all the facts if you want to solve the problem.
  6. Does your child complain about joint issues? This is very common in children that has to carry around a lot of extra weight. Some common problem areas are the lower back and knees. It’s really not fair for kids to have to deal with this!
  7. Strokes and Heart Attacks, are some more common crippling diseases that these poor children have to sometimes deal with. It’s really heartbreaking to think about any child having issues such as these.
  8. How often are you feeding your child fast food? The definition of obesity is simply eating to much of the wrong type of food. Just prepare meals more!
  9. Have you had your child’s cholesterol level checked lately? Because this is another issue that will go up very high when your child weight is not under control.
  10. How well does your child sleep? Many times when they are overweight they have trouble breathing, which actually will sometimes cause them to stop breathing momentarily. This is another one of those obesity health risks that’s not to be taken lightly.

Hopefully, these facts will help you to better monitor your children’s weight situation. A child at a time, this issue can be brought under control. All it takes is some parents that really love their children and don’t mind taking a little time and doing what it takes.

Childhood Obesity and Stress

Most adults still have nightmares that they are in class to take a finals test they haven’t studied for. Children and teenagers sometimes have that as a reality for a variety of reasons. How we help them handle all of life’s stress is part of our job as parents.

Not Just Obese: All children are at risk for stress and the related problems. Being overweight adds to it but it doesn’t necessarily mean that a thinner child feels less. There are numerous reasons for this problem.

What Causes the Problem: Some of it is big events. A death in the family, parental divorce or a parent losing a job are causes. Children pick up on emotional cues from the people around them.

There are some things we might consider small. Forgetting an assignment isn’t the same as a death in the family but it is embarrassing and has an impact on grades. Even positive events cause stress. Getting ready for the prom is exciting but I remember worrying about my dress, my hair and how people would react.

Parental Stress: As mentioned the emotions of parents have a large effect on the children. It doesn’t matter if the problem isn’t discussed in front of the kids. The kids still know there’s a problem. Sometimes (and depending on the age) it’s better if the children do know what’s going on, especially if the situation is fairly minor.

How it Relates: Almost everyone has a set of comfort foods. These foods tend to be the kind that add pounds without adding much in the way of nourishment. Children have the same cravings and unless there is a plan in place this will move them closer to obesity.

Teaching Management: This is not a job for the teachers. It’s our job as parents. You can practice as you teach in order to reduce your own levels. There are many methods and some work better for children than others. Deep breathing practice is probably the best and easiest way, especially for younger children. Older children may be able to use meditation successfully.

This is a serious problem that needs serious attention. Knowing that children feel and react similar to adults can help us keep them at a healthy weight.

Are We A Fat Nation? Childhood Obesity Facts

As most everyone knows, childhood obesity is on the rise in America. It is estimated that tens of millions of children are either overweight or obese. What is the cause of this so-called epidemic? And how can parents and the medical world take control to lower the incidence of childhood obesity?

First of all, it is important to note that children, like adults, must burn the calories they consume. Of course, children, who are still growing, do need a little bit extra calorie-wise, to maintain proper growth. However, they do not need those calories from fast food and candy; rather, nutritious choices have fallen by the wayside in our on-the-go culture.

Couple the rise in junk food consumption with an ever-more sedentary lifestyle, sustained by the continued advent of new computer and video games, and there is a rise in childhood obesity. Just like adults, children must burn off excess calories. So, if a child is eating two thousand calories a day of junk food, and then never even breaking a sweat playing in the yard, it is no wonder that childhood obesity is a problem.

There are certain steps that parents can take to help ward off those excess pounds. Make nutritious choices for your children; left to their own devices, it is unlikely that children will choose fruits, vegetables, and whole grains over sugar and fatty foods. Childhood obesity is an issue for anyone who does not insist that the entire family eat well-rounded meals.

If nothing else, understand that childhood obesity causes a number of other problems, physically and emotionally. Diseases once mostly seen in adults, like high blood pressure, diabetes, and the like, are now much more prevalent in children. This is directly linked to childhood obesity, in that the excess weight causes such strain on the body. Likewise, emotional trauma is endured by the teasing from the non-obese peers of overweight children. This can have lasting effects.

Overall, childhood obesity is a problem that is facing millions of families. The good news is that it can be fought and defeated, beginning at home. Only serve nutritious meals and snacks and encourage children to play and exercise. Perhaps one of the best ways to start fighting childhood obesity at home is to set a good example for your children. In this way, the whole family can enjoy healthier bodies and healthier lives.

Reducing Childhood Obesity With Home Cooking

If you are a parent, or are planning to become one, you can't help but be concerned about the childhood obesity crisis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, childhood obesity has more doubled in the last three decades; for adolescents it has quadrupled. In real terms this means that over a third of children and adolescents are either overweight or obese. These are frightening statistics.

If you want to prevent your children from becoming obese or overweight, one effective way is to cook more meals at home.

Cooking to Lose Weight:

It might seem counter-productive to suggest that cooking more of the food that your children eat can help them to lose weight. After all, most weight loss plans are all about restricting food, right? Well, that's not always the case.

In order to fight childhood obesity, it helps to understand that it is often caused by kids eating too much processed 'fast' food (high in calories and low in nutrition) and not enough healthy food. Replacing most of the highly processed fast food that we feed our kids with nutritious, home-cooked meals and snacks, can go a long way towards helping children to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. It is often called 'junk' food after all.

The Healthy Food Movement:

In 2010, First Lady Michelle Obama started the "Let's Move" campaign to help children get in shape. The program includes exercising, but it also focuses on healthier foods in homes, as well as in schools. Her program is still going strong today. In fact, she recently spoke at a health summit, educating people about all of the benefits of home cooking.

The Immediate Benefits of Home Cooking

The immediate benefits of home cooking for your children can seem obvious when you think about them. The most significant one is that you can control what your children eat – you can choose fresh, nutrition-rich ingredients and limit the amount of unhealthy additives. The heavily processed foods that are prepared outside of the home are usually full of sugar, salt, unpronounceable additives, synthetic flavorings and unhealthy carbohydrates and fats.

As a parent, you'll also notice another immediate benefit of fighting childhood obesity with home cooking – you can save a lot of money! Meals at restaurants, and the pre-packaged meals you buy at the store, can be very expensive. And think about this – if a packaged meal can feed a family of four for just a few dollars – what will the quality of the ingredients be like? To keep prices low the quality of ingredients used has probably been compromised.

The Long-Term Benefits of Home Cooking:

There are also long-term benefits of home cooking for both you and your children. By cooking at home, especially if you involve the children, you will be teaching them healthy cooking and baking habits that they are likely to continue with throughout their childhood and into their adult years.

In fact, the University of Alberta conducted a study in which they found that kids who helped cook meals at home were 10% more likely to choose to eat vegetables than kids who did. And every little bit helps when it comes to kids eating their vegetables.

Finding the time to cook for children can be a challenge. With some sound knowledge, a bit of practice and the right tools you'll quickly be able to establish a healthy eating environment at home. And don't forget that it won't just be the kids who will benefit – you'll be improving your diet as well.