Childhood obesity has become an epidemic in the United States. For the first time in history parents are expected to outlive their obese children. Childhood obesity is defined as an unhealthy percentage of body fat and as a child over the normal weight for his or her age and height. Reports show obesity rates have doubled in adults as well as children since the 1970’s. In 2010 a report found that more than one-third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese. Childhood obesity may threaten the future of the United States. With as many as 25 million obese children currently in the US, as reported by the National Institute of Health, it is important to remember these children are the future.
Most experts believe the epidemic of childhood obesity is too great to ignore. Studies show an obese child creates the likelihood of an obese adult. The consequences of childhood obesity are vast and serious. Cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, atherosclerosis, sleep disorders, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and metabolic syndrome are a few of the health risks obese children face. Obese children and adolescents may also suffer from diabetes, a potentially fatal disease.
The physical aspects of childhood obesity is only one parameter of this health concern. There are psychological aspects as well. Obese children are more prone to depression, low self-esteem, unhealthy body image, discrimination, bullying, and emotional trauma.
A recent study determined unhealthy children grow into unhealthy adults more often than not. Those same adults are expected to inherit the responsibility of leadership and decision-making on behalf of the US. Childhood obesity will put a major strain on the current health care system and perhaps eventually on the federal budget. Experts fear childhood obesity may threaten the future of the United States unless children are taught how to create a healthy lifestyle. Though this may sound a bit depressing in and of itself, experts agree it is not too late to counteract the effects of childhood obesity by teaching children how to have a healthier life and therefore a healthier future.
If the fight against childhood obesity is to be won, experts suggest it must be a team effort. The team may consist of CEO’s of major food corporations and the mom at the breakfast table who refuses food in which the ingredients read like a science experiment. The school board official who makes the brave and economical decision to only offer school children a healthy and affordable menu. These partnerships may possibly help to ensure childhood obesity cannot threaten the future of the US.
Experts suggest the first steps start with parents or guardians as they are instrumental in creating change. It’s not an insurmountable feat to reverse the obesity of your child and get them on track to a healthy weight. The effort will be worth it and the long term effects priceless. Improved self-esteem, new friends, better grades, better sleep, more fit, and happier are just some of the benefits leading experts say you can expect. Here are three ways in which you may help your child fight obesity and perhaps help to ensure childhood obesity does not threaten the future of the US.
- A healthy body starts with healthy food. Gradually implement replacement of snacks filled with sugar to those naturally sweet like fruit. Whip up smoothies with frozen fruit and low-fat milk and raw honey.
- Dinner should not come out of a box. Families particularly parents are short on time therefore this may be a challenge. Use real food instead of fast food or food full of preservatives. Lean protein, roasted vegetables (which brings out the natural sweetness), brown rice and leafy greens are good choices. To help kids adjust to new food choices, experts suggest offering dips such as salsa or guacamole with their vegetables. Have fun with it and make it your own. The health of your child is most important which means the process will likely be a marathon, not a sprint.
- Moving the human body can be a joyous experience and yet many children are not encouraged to do so. Experts point out that physical activity does not have to be an Olympic sport. A 30 minute walk each day can make a huge difference towards better health . A game of softball, basketball, or bike riding are great options. Whatever the activity, make it fun!
The health of the family and the fight against childhood obesity is a fight most Americans see as important. It is worth noting, experts believe it is a fight which can be won.
By Wendy Waring