Many parents are concerned about the dramatic increase in cases of childhood obesity from previous years. It is true that in the last 30 years, childhood obesity has more than tripled from comprising 5% of the 6-11 year old population to now reaching closer to 20%. Parents are especially weary of obesity because of the current economy and the rising costs of healthcare. There is definitely reason to be concerned; however, obesity is a perfectly preventable condition.
The main reason for the concern about childhood obesity comes from the dangerous health conditions it has been linked to. Obese children are much more likely to be diagnosed with conditions like type 2 diabetes, asthma, sleep apnea, and social disorders like anxiety and depression. Obesity in childhood can also lead to adverse health effects later in life like heart attack and stroke.
And though these health problems are increasingly present in children, obesity is not always an easy condition to identify. Obesity is not a condition that can be distinguished by sight alone like many believe it to be. Especially with children, who have various different body types and often gain and lose weight due to hormonal changes in growth, obesity should be diagnosed only by a qualified professional. In order to determine if a child is obese, it is necessary to calculate the child’s Body Mass Index or BMI. A BMI is calculated using a child’s age and weight and is compared to the normal weight for a child at that age. If the child’s BMI is much higher than what is normal, the child is overweight or obese.
However, even a child that is obese is not immediately at risk of poor health. A doctor must check the child’s genetic history, his/her individual growth over time, as well as his/her eating habits to determine what risks may be present. As mentioned, there are many different body types, so a kid who has extra body fat may not have a high blood pressure or high cholesterol (the real cause of many associated health conditions). If you are a parent who is concerned about your child’s weight and health, consult your doctor to find out if the child is at risk.
In order to avoid the stress of countless doctors visits and the cost of healthcare, do what you can to ensure your children grow up healthy. Encourage your child to eat healthy foods like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Teach your child about the many vitamins and minerals found in foods and why they are important for the body’s health. This way, your child will be able to make his/her own decisions about what to eat.
Another good way to encourage healthy eating is to avoid fatty and sugary foods. Try to spend more time eating healthy meals together as a family rather than going to fast food restaurants. And also encourage your kids to be active. One of the best ways to prevent childhood obesity is to spend time playing outside or doing activities like sports or gymnastics. Be a little more health conscious and it will do a lot to lessen your child’s risk of obesity.