Childhood obesity is a serious public health problem that about one in six children (17%) in the U.S. faces. This figure has more than tripled since the 1970s. Obesity puts kids at a higher risk of having many serious health conditions including asthma, sleep apnea, bone and joint problems, and type 2 diabetes. Obese children may also have high blood pressure and high cholesterol, putting them at risk for heart disease. In addition to these issues, overweight children may face bullying which can lead to social isolation, depression, and lower self-esteem.
How can you help prevent obesity in your child? Here are some tips to support their healthy growth.
- Monitor your child’s growth – Learn more about childhood obesity and use this Body Mass Index (BMI) Percentile calculator to assess your child’s risks with your doctor.
- Hydrate with water – Drinking water can help manage your child’s body weight and reduce caloric intake. Limit sugary beverages and juices and offer them water as a no-calorie alternative.
- Snack on fruits and vegetables – Fruits and vegetables are a nutritious, low-calorie option to provide your child as snacks instead of chips or candy.
- Stay active – Help your child stay physically active every day by replacing TV or video game time with age-appropriate activities. As a general rule, limit screen time to two hours or less a day.
- Be active and healthy! You are the best role model for your child. Plan family time around a physical activity like a neighborhood walk or playing frisbee in the park. At home, prepare healthy meals for the whole family to enjoy together.
Childhood obesity is a complicated problem, but we can all help be part of the solution. Even small steps like the ones listed above can go a long way in helping to keep your child healthy and active. Now is a great time to incorporate healthy eating habits and physical wellness into your child’s lifestyle.