Helping Kids Eat Well, Move Well and Feel Well
Sep 16, 2021
September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity affects 1 in 5 children and adolescents in the United States. Obesity impacts children just like adults – putting them at increased risk for chronic health conditions, high blood pressure, asthma, sleep apnea, bone and joint problems, and type 2 diabetes. Children with obesity may face physical, emotional, and financial obstacles in the future as well.
Factors that influence childhood obesity:
- Diet. Consuming high-calorie foods, such as fast foods, baked goods, and vending machine snacks on a daily basis can increase the risk of obesity.
- Physical inactivity. Sedentary behavior is also linked to all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease, cancer risk, and diabetes.
- Lack of sleep
Socioeconomic factors can also influence childhood obesity:
- Lack of places to go in the community to get physical activity
- Easy access to inexpensive, high calorie foods and sugary beverages
- Lack of access to affordable, healthier foods
There are many reasons why a child may be increasing in weight. If a child is considered obese, their obesity and disease risk factors can continue into adulthood. By improving some of these factors that influence childhood obesity, we can reduce disease risk factors and promote healthy lifestyles for children.
Here are some ways to promote healthy growth in children and prevent obesity:
- Provide nutritious, healthy meals with more fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain foods.
- STAY HYDRATED! Drink water and limit sugary drinks and juices.
- Get active! Walk around the neighborhood, go on a bike ride, or play basketball at the park. 60 minutes a day of moderate to vigorous physical activity is recommended for children.
- Limit screen time to 2 hours or less a day
- Encourage healthy sleep habits. Children who get enough sleep decrease their risk of obesity, diabetes, poor mental health, and problems with attention and behavior. Recommendations include 9 to 12 hours of sleep nightly for ages 6-12 and 8 to 10 hours of sleep for ages 13-18.
Overall, consuming nutritious foods and participating in physical activity can help children grow and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Children who follow a healthy lifestyle often have fewer school absences, higher academic achievements, higher self-esteem, and fewer behavior problems and are setting themselves up for a better, healthier future.
Story Credit: Thanks to Karleigh Sudenga, Dietetics Student at South Dakota State University, for providing this story.