Childhood Obesity – Why is it Prevalent?

The problem of childhood obesity has become one of the most serious health issues today. The number of overweight children in the US has doubled in the last 30 years. Childhood obesity has become an epidemic in the US. Now it has reached one in five children and it is reaching younger children also. Preschoolers are found overweight. It is higher in African American, Hispanic and Native Americans where some statistics show 35 to 40% are overweight. Also, as some children get fat, fat children get fatter. It is the most common problem pediatricians see.

The consequences of childhood obesity are dire. There is a psychological factor, including poor body image, which results in low self-concept and depression. There is also an obvious physical factor including, type II diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood, early puberty, sleep apnea, orthopedic problems and fatty liver, and many more. Obesity in children tends to remain until adulthood which opens the possibility of diseases such as stroke, heart attack, hypertension, diabetes and some forms of cancer.

There are many causes of childhood obesity. First of all the food choices are unhealthy with an accent on fats and simple sugars and not much on fruits and vegetables. This is a high calorie diet. Add to this a sedentary lifestyle often exacerbated by TV and computer games. Genetics also plays a part. If the parents tend to be overweight, the children probably will also, but environment is also responsible. Fat parents may have a home filled with fatty foods. If the parents don’t exercise, the children may not be encouraged to have physical activity either. Some other factors are low birth weight as well as high weight gain during pregnancy. Brest feeding may prevent excess weight gain in infants.

There are some suggestions for parents to help their children from becoming a childhood obesity statistic. Parents should be sure the food in the home is healthy, including snacks. Children will eat what is available and learn to like certain healthy foods. Fruits and vegetables should be made attractive as a snack as well as at meal time.

Children will love grapes, apples and oranges or whatever is in season if they are made easy to eat. Most children reject vegetables but there are recipes that are very tasty and they need not know it’s a veggie. Good salad dressing can make almost any raw or steamed vegetable delicious. Avoid frying foods and stick to mustard, olive oil and vinegar sauces and not ones high in sugar and fat. Always use low fat milk products including yogurt and ice cream. Give your children a chance to run and play. Whether it is team sports or just jump rope at home, it will help burn calories and tone muscles.

Childhood obesity is avoidable. It can be controlled right in the home or if there are complications a doctor can help. Remember, TV makes anyone hungry, so be especially careful about you and your children eating in front of the TV. When they are still young and impressionable, children will love to copy you. Make sure you are a good role model for a healthy lifestyle.

Source by Gita Gail Morrow

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