NDSU Extension Service - Mercer County

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September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, child development, childhood obesity

Submitted by Dena Kemmet, Extension Agent/Family and Consumer Sciences

According to Mayo Clinic, childhood obesity is a serious medical condition that affects children and adolescents. It occurs when a child is well above the normal weight for his or her age and height.

Childhood obesity is particularly troubling because the extra pounds often start children on the path to health problems that were once confined to adults, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Childhood obesity can also lead to poor self-esteem and depression.

What are the causes of this increased prevalence of childhood obesity? The causes are not totally clear, but the following are factors associated with this increase:

  • Sedentary lifestyle: Studies have shown that children who watch television for longer than one hour per day tend to have a higher BMI as well as higher blood pressure. Watching television frequently leads to snacking and poor food choices.
  • Decline in physical education and overall activity: Budgetary pressures on schools and increased focus on academic scores have pushed out physical education and recess. Children are spending more time in the car, being driven to school and other activities rather than walking. Working parents are not comfortable with their children going outside when they are not home.
  • High-calorie foods and sweetened beverages: Making poor nutrition choices with calorie-dense foods and the intake of sweetened beverages. Studies have shown an association between sugared beverage intake and obesity, in both children and adults. This includes both soft drinks and sugar-sweetened fruit drinks.
  • Large portion sizes: An increase in portion sizes, for instance, has been linked to increased obesity in children, particularly among adolescents. Portion sizes have increased since the 1970’s.
  • Eating away from home: There is evidence that eating away from home, usually “fast food” is associated with increased risk for overweight and obesity.
  • Parental obesity: A genetic component to obesity cannot be ignored, as obesity has been found to be inherited in certain families. Genetics plays a big role in obesity.

One in 3 children in the United States are overweight or obese. Childhood obesity puts kids at risk for health problems that were once seen only in adults. The good news is that childhood obesity can be prevented. In honor of National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, NDSU Extension encourages your family to make healthy changes together.

  • Get active outside: Walk around the neighborhood, go on a bike ride, or play basketball at the park.
  • Limit screen time: Keep screen time (time spent on the computer, watching TV, or playing videos games) to 2 hours or less a day.
  • Make healthy meals: Buy and serve more vegetables, fruits, and whole-grain foods.

One of the best strategies to reduce childhood obesity is to improve the diet and exercise habits of your entire family. Treating and preventing childhood obesity helps protect the health of your child now and in the future.

Taking small steps as a family can help your child stay at a healthy weight.

Sources: https://blogs.extension.org/militaryfamilies/2015/09/16/our-children-are-obese/

www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/childhood-obesity/basics/definition/con-20027428

 

 

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