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.

Childhood Obesity Dangers

Childhood obesity is a serious medical problem. Children, who are obese, often end up developing major health problems later in life. In addition, they usually have low self-esteem, body image issues, and suffer from depression.

Symptoms Of Childhood Obesity

It is important to realize that not all children who have a few extra pounds are obese. Some kids tend to have larger body frames and each child has different amount of body fat at different development stages. Hence, it will not be possible to look at your child and determine that they are obese or overweight.

A doctor is best placed to check your child’s weight and height, and see whether they are proportionate. The doctor will also calculate your child’s BMI (body mass index), and perform other tests to determine whether your child is obese.

Issues And Problems Due To Childhood Obesity

Your child can suffer physically, emotionally and socially due to childhood obesity. Some of the risks of being obese during childhood include:

• Type 2 Diabetes: In Type 2 Diabetes, the body is unable to metabolize sugar efficiently, leading to spike in sugar levels in the blood. It can result in a host of complications. This is a chronic condition.

• Elevated Blood Pressure and Cholesterol: Due to obesity, your child can develop both high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Both lead to build-up of plaque in the blood vessels, obstructing smooth flow of blood and causing the heart to work harder to pump blood. Plaque formation can lead to a stroke or heart attack after your child attains adulthood.

• Non-Alcoholic Liver Disease: Here, fat accumulates in the liver, leading to irreversible liver damage and scarring. It does not have any specific symptoms.

• Respiratory Disorder: Many obese children find it difficult to breathe, and a vast majority is diagnosed with asthma.

Childhood obesity can also lead to other children teasing and bullying your child. This can lead to depression and low self-esteem. Also, childhood obesity leads to anxiety and poor social skills due to which you will get complaints about your child either disrupting the classroom or becoming socially withdrawn. Depression is another major problem among obese children as they feel a sense of hopelessness. This can have serious long term effects on your child’s mental health.

Consulting a pediatrician is the best and safest way to prevent childhood obesity. The specialists at the clinic will determine your child’s BMI and also evaluate your child’s eating habits, activities, and family history so they can create a personalized plan that will help your child lose weight safely.

The Effects of Childhood Obesity on Learning

There are many things that can create learning problems for children. Learning disabilities, medical disorders and stress can each play a role. So can obesity.

Bullying : There are a lot of things that can make a child a target for bullies. Most of us had a run in with them about something. I wore glasses and was skinny, so I got called four eyes and bean pole. The same is true of the overweight and / or obese child.

This teasing creates either a concentration on rectifying the matter or a resort to comfort foods … or both. It's hard to concentrate on class if the mind is occupied with other activities such as avoiding bullies.

Self-esteem : The overweight child can see it in the mirror. It's obvious when it's time to shop for school clothes. It's whispered on the playground. This inhibits self-esteem. Those with low self-esteem think that they will never be able to do anything right and may feel like "why bother?" when it comes to class.

Afraid to Ask : On top of the first two issues, an overweight child might be afraid to ask questions in class. They don't want to draw more attention to themselves. Without asking questions a vital chance to learn something is missed, and it will show up on test scores.

How can we help ? Schools are now cracking down hard on children who bully. There has been too many kids trying to or achieving suicide. If you see a child being bullied or the victim is your child, talk to the school.

Find something that the child can do well. Get them committed to following through with it. Praise them when the achieve a goal. Correct gently when they need it. Having a talent or skill can help greatly with self-esteem.

Talk to the teachers, especially in classes where grades are low. Work out ways that the child can learn what needs to be learned without drawing attention to that child. This works in other areas as well; I know because one of our children did not want to ask questions in class. The teacher helped me help her.

While we do want our overweight children to achieve the right weight we also need to concentrate on their education. Weight loss isn't a fast thing and the time is ticking in school.

Prevent Childhood Obesity – The Long Term Effects of Childhood Obesity

Childhood obesity is not a reference to the pleasantly plump babies or the cherub shaped toddlers. The majority of children will begin life with the plumpness we expect to see in babies. These children will grow taller and will lose their "baby fat" as they begin to walk, run, and be more active.

Children that are considered to be obese are the ones who have a BMI (Body Mass Index) that is greater than 80% is considered to be obese. This means that a child who weighs more than eighty percent of their peers who are of the same height, age, and gender, is overweight.

A lot of people say that it is okay to be overweight before puberty because as a person reaches puberty they will automatically begin to lose the excess pounds. This does happen to some people, but it is not what happens to all people. A youngster that is considered to be obese is 70% more apt to be obese when they become an adult.

The longterm effects of childhood obesity can be broken down into physical and mental effects. The longterm effects of childhood obesity can physically shorten the life expectancy of the individual, and can reduce the quality of life the individual is expected to have. Mentally the obesity can cause great unhappiness in the individual's life.

Physical Effects caused by Obesity include (but are not limited to):

• Hypertension (high blood pressure)

• Type II Diabetes

• Heart disease such as coronary artery disease

• Gallbladder problems such as gall-stones

• Osteoarthritis (a deterioration of the cartilage and bone that the joints of the body are made of)

• Breast cancer

• Colon cancer

• Kidney cancer

• Liver cancer

• Strokes

• High cholesterol

• Sleep apnea

• Breathing difficulties

• Premature death

• Back pain

• Difficulties in becoming pregnant, problems in menstruation

• Yeast infections

The mental health issues that are caused by excessive amounts of weight include (but are not limited to)

Depression

• Anxiety

• Low self-esteem

• Mood disorders and suicidal thoughts

• embarrassment

Being overweight does not just affect a person's physical and mental state, it affects their quality of life. Some of the life altering effects of this condition include (but are not limited to):

• An inability to walk without pain and discomfort. This pain and discomfort may include pain in the joints, the back, or difficulty breathing.

• Difficulty finding clothing to fit

• The inability to sit in some chairs. Most chairs that are in public places are designed to hold someone who weighs 250 lbs or less. An obese person may not be able to fit into the chairs in restaurants and waiting rooms.

• Seatbelts in vehicles may not properly fit around the obese individual

• Obese individuals may have to pay for 2 seats on an airplane or a bus when they travel

• They may have difficulties finding bathroom scales that will weigh them

• They are often lonely because of their lack of self-esteem, and their social embarrassment

All of the longterm effects of excessive weight create an increased amount of medical cost in the United States and around the world. According to the Centers for Disease Control $ 190.2 billion dollars are spent each year in the United States alone treating obesity related illnesses. That breaks down to being 21% of the money spent each year by the US on medical related issues is money spent because of obesity. The CDC.gov estimates that 14 billion of those dollars are spent treating medical conditions suffered by children who are obese.

The only way for obesity to be stopped is for it to never start. Everyone needs to be concerned about this problem so things will change. Some of the things that could be done to stop this epidemic include (but are not limited to)

• Increased education for parents and guardians

• Changes in foods that are offered at popular restaurants where children frequently eat

• A campaign to promote physical activity for young people and decrease the amount of time they send watching television and playing video games

• Insurance companies that offer reduced rates to families who fit within the proper BMI chart for their ages, genders, and heights

It is going to take a community effort to make the changes necessary to stop this condition from killing so many people prematurely.