Childhood Obesity Tips: “In Sync” with Michelle Obama’s
Almost 1 out of every 3 school aged children is obese or overweight. Furthermore, African American girls and Hispanic boys seem to have an even greater risk of becoming obese than other minority, or multicultural, children.
Just A Little Baby Fat?
Don’t you believe it! Being overweight or obese greatly increases the risk of affected children developing chronic illnesses that used to only be seen in adults over the age of 40 years of age. More children are developing type 2 diabetes hypertension (or high blood pressure) high cholesterol levels, putting them at increased risk for heart disease and stroke.
Overweight and obese children often struggle with asthma, knee and other joint pain and sleep apnea. Overweight and obese children are also likely to experience self-esteem issues from teasing and stigma from other children.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) predicts that this may be the first time in history that parents will have a greater life expectancy than their kids.
What Can We Do?
If you’re worried about your child’s weight, work at getting healthy yourself. Experts say that a child who lives in the home with two obese parents has an 80 percent risk of becoming overweight or obese, and if a child has only one parent who is obese, the risk is 40 percent. The risk of becoming obese drops to seven (7) percent if both parents of a child are normal weight.
There are some other things you can do in your home and in your community. . .
- Cook at home. The more families eat at fast food restaurants, the greater the risk of being overweight.
- Give up the soft drinks. They are high in calories and loaded with sugar.
- Substitute healthy snacks for the chips, cupcakes and other fattening, salty foods you buy for the kids.
- Buy more fresh fruits and vegetables. If you can’t get the freshest vegetables, move to frozen vegetables.
- Reduce the amount of fatty meats you buy and cook.
- Cut back on fried foods, such as chicken and fish. Those French fries you and your kids love help to clog up the arteries and pack on the weight.
- Control portion sizes. The portion sizes of meals have tripled. We are eating more food than we need. No need for seconds and thirds.
- Get everybody moving. Turn off the television, go for walks, or go to the community center or Y to get some exercise.
- Be an Advocate:
- At your child’s school, push for outdoor recess, gym classes, and after-school athletics.
- Ask your school administrators about replacing soda and candy with healthy water, fruits and snacks.
- Tell your public officials that you want more safe places for kids to play in your area.
- Support Farmer’s Markets that help to provide fresh, affordable and accessible food to your community.
Contributing Health Power Editor
Andrea King Collier
Food and Society Policy Fellow
W.K. Kellogg Foundation