Childhood Obesity Prevention

Preventing Child Obesity: Healthy Youth for a Healthy Future

The American obesity epidemic has been passed to our youngest generation. Among adults in the United States, two-thirds are overweight, and 30.5 percent are obese. Today, 12.5 million children are overweight in the United States which is more than 17 percent.

child obesityChildhood obesity is a serious health concern for children and adolescents in this country and around the world. Since 1980, child obesity has more than doubled among children ages 2-5 and more than tripled among youth ages 6-11 and adolescents ages 12-19. Recent data suggest that only 15.3 percent of 6- 11-year-old children and 15.5 percent of 12- 19-year-old adolescents were overweight in 2000. Although 15 percent is a lot, at least it isn't as high as the two-thirds of adults who are overweight.

Much of this increase in obesity in children is attributable to sedentary lifestyles and poor eating habits (see childhood obesity causes).Overweight children are at far greater risk of developing some instant consequences and be at increased risk for chronic diseases, including –
►Type 2 diabetes
►Cardiovascular risks
►Seep apnea
►Psychosocial effects of social stigmatization (often subjected to exclusion by their peers, which can affect their emotional well-being (see psychosocial effects of child obesity)

For further reading on effects of obesity in children, see childhood obesity effects

childhood obesity prevention

Healthy weight can be maintained by balancing the amount of energy going into a child's body (as food and drink) and the energy (see energy imbalance) being used (for a child's body to function and grow and physical activity). Eating a balanced diet and leading a physically active lifestyle can help keep away from child obesity.

obesity in childrenChild obesity is easier to prevent than to treat, and prevention focuses in large measure on parent education. Teaching healthy habits at a young age is essential since change becomes more difficult with age. Behaviors involving physical activity and nutrition are the cornerstone of preventing obesity in children and adolescents. In infancy, parent education should center on promotion of breastfeeding, recognition of signals of satiety, and delayed introduction of solid foods. In early childhood, education should include proper nutrition, selection of low-fat snacks, (see childhood obesity fast food) good exercise/activity habits, and monitoring of television viewing (see television childhood obesity) In cases where preventive measures cannot totally overcome the influence of hereditary factors, parent education should focus on building self-esteem and address psychological issues.

Parents, caregivers, schools, community and other caring adults are most critical links in providing the foundation for children's eating and activity habits. Teaching kids the importance of eating well and being physically active at a young age is crucial to reversing the trend of child obesity in this country.

Childhood Obesity Prevention Initiatives:

Childhood Obesity Parents
childhood obesity parentsParents are the most important role models for children. Your behaviors teach your child to choose correct diet (see childhood obesity diet), how much to eat and when to eat. Children will have the habit of exercising if you stay physically active (see childhood obesity exercise). Lifestyle changes can be difficult at times, mainly if you're busy dealing with the demands of daily life. However, if a family works collectively and motivate efforts done, success is likely to achieve. Gradually, healthy habits will become schedule and you'll help to prevent obesity in children and improving your family's overall health.Some suggestions on how you can be a positive role model for your child:

► Be physically active every day (see childhood obesity physical activity).
► Eat healthy foods (see childhood obesity food) avoid fast foods & junk foods in the house.
► Control your portion sizes.
► Save treats and high-calorie foods for special occasions (see childhood obesity nutrition).
► Limit the screen time by turning off the TV.
► Concentrate on the importance of healthy lifestyle choices, rather than a number on the scale.
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Childhood Obesity School Community Initiatives

childhood obesity school

It has been recommended that children (ages 6-19) should participate in at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity, all days of the week if possible (see help kids stay active). The school setting should offer multiple opportunities for all students, not just those who are lithely inclined, to enjoy physical activity through physical education and other opportunities outside of physical education classes such as walking to and from school, enjoying recess, physical activity clubs, and intramural sports programs, and having classroom lessons that incorporate physical activities.

School canteens should be healthy and active (see encourage healthy eating habits). Foods which are being sold in the cafeteria should be considered for nutritional content. When students pass through a serving line, they should be given simple, easy-to-understand information on the items they select.
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child obesity prevention in community

Communities can plan events and build places that help kids stay active and encourage healthy eating habits. How much physical activity people do is affected by the environment, which also makes a difference in preventing obesity in children. Communities can be designed to support activities, like regular walking, biking, or playing of sports. Children’s physical activity levels go up when more recreational areas are near their homes. Look into nearby parks, sidewalks, playgrounds, skateboard parks, beaches, forests, trails, community gardens, and even shopping malls for increasing children’s physical activity.

Raise the number of places people can get healthy food they can afford. Make space for a farmers’ market. Ask people to buy foods and goods grown in or near the community. Additionally, increase attractive, attention-getting displays of healthy food choices aimed at children.
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What can I do about child obesity? General Suggestions:

Overweight children need acceptance, support, and encouragement from their family. They should know that they are loved and appreciated regardless of their weight.

Parents and care givers should focus on their child's health and positive qualities, not the child's weight.

Obese children should not be made to feel different. Gradually changing the family's physical activity and eating habits should be the focus for parents and care givers, rather than the child's weight.

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