There is always press about the newest diet and how to get the perfect swim suit body, but let’s not lose focus on the most important aspect, health. Health and weight issues affecting our youth are on the rise. The CDC reports “Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years.”
As with many aspects of life, there are barriers that contribute to childhood obesity, whether they are in the home, in the school or in the community. The key is how we deal with them and how we teach our children to deal with them. Obesity puts our youth at a higher risk for issues such as cardiovascular risk factors, diabetes/pre-diabetes, musculoskeletal issues, sleep issues, asthma and psychological issues. Obesity in childhood also put individuals at a higher risk of being obese as an adult, something that has added health risks such as higher risk of stroke, cancer, osteoarthritis, heart disease and diabetes.
A well-balanced and healthy lifestyle is an important factor in targeting this growing issue. A significant factor with obesity is increased caloric intake with not enough activity. There can also be genetic and hormonal factors, and that is why it is important to consult the child’s doctor so his/her health can be monitored. We have to get children moving, limit the time they spend taking part in stationary activity such as watching television or playing computer/video games. Remember that it doesn’t have to be a strict exercise routine, just get moving and have fun.
Find activities that they find fun and enjoyable and vary them so it keeps kids interested. Children tend to look up to their family members, so lead by example and take this challenge as a family. This can also be a great way to make for more quality family time. Each family member can alternate and choose a different activity during the week, which will also allow for variety so the children can have the opportunity to meet new friends, improve their social skills and help increase confidence. It is important to educate children about why it is important for them to eat healthy and stay active.
When cooking family meals, speak to them about nutritional value and what food choices may be better than others. Teach them how to make their own healthy snack choices versus feeling like they are being told what to eat, giving them some independence in their choices so they have an active part in their health. As a community, let’s help our youth to decrease the risk of potential health and weight issues that can interfere with their life ahead of them. Let’s challenge ourselves to educate and find ways to keep them active, meet new friends, and have fun. Let’s get moving.
References: cdc.gov, mayoclinic.org.
Photo: A well-balanced lifestyle is an important factor in raising healthy kids.