Childhood obesity has become a No. 1 health concern among parents. Get the facts on this growing epidemic here.
In the past 30 years, childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents. Today, one out of every three U.S. children and adolescents is overweight or obese, making weight one of the most pressing issues of our time.
What is Overweight vs. Obese?
The terms “overweight” and “obesity” refer to weight that’s greater than what is considered healthy for a certain height. To determine whether a child is overweight, a health professional will plot his height, weight, gender, and age on a standard chart. If he is at or above the 85th and below the 95th percentiles, he is considered overweight. If he is at or above the 95th percentile, he is considered obese.
The Risk to Your Child’s Health
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the immediate health effects of childhood obesity include greater risk of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, prediabetes, bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and poor self-esteem. In addition, studies have shown that obese children and teens are more likely to be obese as adults, and therefore more at risk for adult health problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer, and osteoarthritis.
What’s Causing This?
Research shows most children who are overweight or obese in America do not meet healthy diet and physical activity recommendations. Portion sizes have grown, fast food consumption has increased, and today’s children are spending far more time watching TV, surfing the internet, and playing video games.
A Call to Action
If your child is overweight or obese, three of the most important things you can do as a parent are to1) facilitate a healthy diet low in sugar and processed foods and high in lean protein, fruits, and vegetables, 2) encourage at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day, and 3) limit their screen time and media intake.
Don’t underestimate the power of these healthy lifestyle measures: As little as 10% weight loss in an overweight or obese child can help reduce their risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Start small by making one healthy change a week. You’ll see the fruit as time goes on!