About 1 in 5 (19%) of children in the United States is obese. National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month provides a chance for all of us to learn more about this serious health condition.
- Children with obesity are at a higher risk for having chronic health conditions and diseases, such as asthma and type 2 diabetes. They also have more risk factors for heart disease like high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
- Children with obesity are more likely to struggle with obesity as adults. This can lead to lifelong physical and mental health problems such as a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and many types of cancers.
- Children with obesity can be bullied and teased more than their normal weight peers. They are more likely to suffer from social isolation, depression, and lower self-esteem.
There are many factors that can contribute to childhood obesity, such as diet, exercise, genetics, and socioeconomic and psychological factors. While not all risks are avoidable, there are a few things that we can do to help.
Ways to reduce risk
- It is recommended for children to get AT LEAST 60 minutes of physical activity per day. Limiting sedentary activities such as TV and video games to less than 2 hours a day is also recommended.
- Encourage interests in physical activities such as sports and playing outside is safe.
Choose Healthy Foods
- Swapping high calorie foods such as fast food, unhealthy snacks, baked goods, candy, and desserts for healthier options such as fruits and vegetables can help decrease the risk of childhood obesity.
- Sugary drinks, including fruit juices may contribute to obesity as well. Drinking water instead of high calorie and sugar-filled beverages is a healthier option that can help decrease risks.
Making your own flavored water is a great way to assist in helping children (and others) switch from soda, and other sugary drinks, plus its delicious! To make your own flavored water just take a large container; fill it with water and add your favorite fruits or herbs. Having flavored water ready in the fridge or in a “to go” container is great when kids are thirsty and want something special.