You’d have to be on another planet to not be are aware of the fact that overweight and obesity are at epidemic proportions in this country…I mean, between the news media and television shows dedicated to this topic, how could anyone be unaware? But many are. To date, two thirds of all Americans fall into one of these two categories. And just to make matters worse, our youngsters are also suffering from these two maladies. For openers, here are a few statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years
- The percentage of children aged 6–11 years in the U.S. who were obese increased from 7% in 1980 to nearly 18% in 2010. Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged 12–19 years who were obese increased from 5% to 18% over the same period.
- More than one third of children and adolescents are overweight or obese.
How did this happen? Well, if you look back thirty years ago, kids walked to and from school, and also spent more time playing outside at school and at home before dinner. Speaking of dinner, it was prepared at home and included vegetables and usually a glass of milk.
Today, our kids are either on the bus or driven to school. Our frenetic lifestyles convince us we don’t have time to cook a healthy meal, so we buy processed convenience fare, or we pick up fast food. With the advent of technology including TV, kids spend inordinate amounts of time with electronic devices from cell phones to video games and everything in between, resulting in little or no physical activity.
Childhood obesity impacts children’s lives in the short term with an increased prevalence of cardiovascular disease, prediabetes, bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and of course the social and psychological problems that come with being overweight. In the long term, children who are obese are more likely to be obese as adults setting themselves up for a much greater risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, certain cancers, and osteoarthritis to name a few.
Probably all of us have friends or family who are the parents of a child that could be categorized as overweight or obese…but what can we do? Well, we can offer ideas that can help them, like providing their kids readily available healthy snacks like fruit, suggest taking a walk after dinner, turn the TV off especially during meal times (TV makes people eat mindlessly and usually more), and plan physical activity that is fun and family centered like hikes, walks, and outdoor games. Wrap it all up in love, and you can’t go wrong! If you would like to learn more, I highly recommend this website http://www.letsmove.gov/ as it’s filled with great information that you can use to help turn around childhood obesity…no matter what your walk in life…we need to put our nation’s kids on the road to optimal health… and you can help!
Visit my website to learn more about how you can empower people of all ages to create health in their lives… http://www.sharonstewartrn.tsfl.com