14 Jul Get Active against Childhood Obesity
According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the United States isn’t leading the world in the number of overweight (and obese) children—but we are in the top five. In fact, our country comes in 5th place, but our numbers are still dangerously high. Luckily, there are some things we can do about it.
Obese vs. Overweight
The main difference between these two terms is what causes the extra weight. If your child is overweight, they weigh more than what’s considered the standard for their height, and this excess weight could be caused by muscle, water, fat, or a combination of these. If your child is obese, their weight is so above normal that they are at risk for health problems such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or other issues.
As of 2012, almost one out of every three American children were considered overweight or obese.
How Did That Happen?
There are a lot of factors that played into this. For one thing, about 98% of all food advertisements that our children will see are for junk food, and most children will see about ten food ads per day. Some of those advertisements are in middle and high schools. With the food industry pounding these positive images and eye-catching advertisements into our children’s heads, it’s no wonder the obesity rate has grown so much over the last 30 years.
While you won’t see ads for healthier food as often, another problem is that healthier food is often more expensive and less convenient. Then there’s the issue of increasingly larger portion sizes, which have increased not only in restaurants but also in grocery stores and vending machines. As portion sizes increase in the world around us, it’s hard to not let those bigger portions creep into our homes, as well.
So What Can You Do?
One of the best steps you can take to fight against childhood obesity is to get your kids moving. Here are a few tips that can help you do this:
- Participate in 60 minutes of physical activity a day. This doesn’t have to be a recreation sport (although those are great, too). It can be taking a stroll through the park or playing tag in the backyard or doing yoga in the living room. Swimming is an awesome form of exercise that a lot of kids enjoy, especially in the summertime when it’s hot outside. Whatever it is, try to keep moving for at least an hour.
- Minimize screen time. A lot of screen time is done sitting down, especially if you’re watching TV or playing a video game or app on a mobile device. To help your kids stay active, minimize that time to less than two hours a day. In addition to giving your kids more time to be active, cutting down screen time can help reduce the number of junk food advertisements they’re exposed to.
- Promote healthy eating at home. Activity alone won’t cut it for most kids, so moderation of excess calories is also important. Convenience is a huge factor when it comes to the foods we eat, so try to make healthy foods easily available at home. If you have sweets, put them on the top shelf of the pantry where they’re hard to see and hard to reach. Watching portion sizes in important, too. For more tips on how to get kids to eat healthier, check out this blog post.
For more information on the web, visit cdc.gov or heart.org. If you have questions or would like to discuss any concerns you have regarding childhood obesity, you can schedule an appointment with me, Dr. Kathryn Mandal, by calling 817-617-8600 or scheduling online at continuumtx.com.