Did you know that September was Childhood Obesity month? As in, the nation was supposed to put our time and energy into helping solve this epidemic…Unfortunately, very few people even knew it was a ‘national month.’ I think I saw one public service announcement all month. I may be a hound, but I do watch a good deal of television…although, really, the DVR is my best friend (and you thought it was man? Ha!), so I do skim the commercials…but still, only saw the one.
Childhood obesity numbers are at an all-time high. The number of obese children has more than tripled in the last three decades. The number of obese children aged 6 to 11 has gone from 6.5% in 1980 to 19.6% in 2008, with experts predicting these numbers will continue to grow.
Obesity is defined by having a body mass index of greater than 30, but this is for adults. The CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend using the Body Mass Index (BMI) to screen for overweight and obesity in children and teens aged 2 through 19 years. However, although they suggest this, they also state that BMI should only be used as a gauge, to screen for overweight and obesity in children and teens, BMI is not a diagnostic tool3. Your child’s doctor is the best measure for finding out if your child is obese or not.
What is the danger, you ask? Well, history shows that a great majority of obese children grow into obese adults. Obese youth are far more likely to have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, like high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Children who are obese also have a great risk for joint problems, sleep apnea, social problems, and poor self-esteem.
Now that I’ve got your attention, you need to know that you can help your child. The first thing you need to do is become a good example. Eat right and exercise. Model the proper behavior…if you are drinking a soda and eating junk food for breakfast, your children think it’s okay to do this, too. As an adult, you should know better, and you should know that what you do makes a huge impact on what your child does. Eat better…eat a health breakfast ,add more vegetables to dinner…cut out or switch your high fat, high calorie snacks for better choices…and get active with your kids! Go for a walk, a bike ride…go swimming with them…find something that you all enjoy and get involved. Be the example and you’ll see your health improve right along with your child’s.
1) “Childhood Obesity.” (2010). Healthy Youth! Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/HealthyYouth/obesity/