By, Aaron Powers
Childhood obesity is a serious epidemic facing our children today. The American Heart Association and CDC (Center for Disease Control) report that one out of three kids is overweight or obese. That is roughly three times as many overweight or obese children than there were almost 50 years ago. As a result , children today are at more risk to develop heart disease such as high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure, as well as type II diabetes, bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, depression and low self-esteem as a result of their weight gain. Not only is this a problem that effects individuals in the childhood years, but it has also been shown that children that are obese are more likely to become obese adults.
What is the difference between being overweight and being obese? Overweight is defined as having excess body weight for a particular height from fat, muscle, bone, water, or a combination of these factors. Obesity is defined as having excess body fat. Excess body fat is the result of a “positive caloric balance” which means that more calories are consumed than are being expended, therefore resulting in stored energy in the form of fat.
Why such a dramatic increase in the last 50 years? One reason is the ever increasing sedentary lifestyle of the American family. Here are some of the factors that have contributed to this increase:
What can be done to prevent my child from becoming overweight or obese (or to get my kid back on the right track)?
Here are some suggestions from the Mayo Clinic:
Don’t forget to move!
While nutrition is an extremely vital aspect in reducing childhood obesity, don’t forget about physical activity. While video games are fun and TV is entertaining, parents should limit their kids to no more than 2 hours of screen time per day.
Simply having your child take a brisk 30min walk a day can significantly reduce the chance of your child of becoming obese. However, seeing as how children are reluctant to walk for no reason, physical activity should be made fun in the form of a game such as hide and seek, capture the flag, kickball, or jump rope. Also you want to make sure you do a variety of activities such as swimming, biking, hiking, and playing games so that your child will develop a variety of muscles as well as coordination while keeping activity new and exciting.
Parents are role models
Finally, the most important aspect in helping your children become active and healthy so that they can develop into active and healthy adults is taking care of yourself and modeling healthy behavior. Children often emulate their parents, so if you are active along with them they are more likely to enjoy physical activity and healthy eating habits even into their adult years than if you chose sit on the couch.
About the Author
Aaron Powers is part of our coaching staff at hive lifespan. He is a personal and group trainer and also teaches some of our specialty classes at hive. He earned both his BS and MS in Exercise Science from University at Buffalo and is a NY State Licensed Athletic Trainer. Additionally Aaron holds certifications as a NSCA Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Gravity Personal Training Instructor, Power Plate Level I and is a AHA Basic Life Support Instructor.
Sources used to write this article:
Child Obesity Facts by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention
Understanding Childhood Obesity by Len Saunders
Childhood Obesity by Mayo Clinic
Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net