Childhood obesity affects about 1 in 5 children in the U.S. Obesity can cause other health issues in children, so it is important to do what we can to help children live healthy lifestyles. Below is some information about childhood obesity and how you can help.
What is childhood obesity?
Children experiencing obesity
are at a higher risk for developing serious health conditions such as
- Type 2 diabetes
- Bone problems
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Sleep apnea
Studies have shown that children
with obesity may also experience bullying due to their weight. This can lead to low self-esteem and mental health problems like anxiety and depression. Additionally, a child with obesity is likely to continue having problems with their weight as an adult, leading to an even greater increase in health risks.
What causes childhood obesity?
There are several factors that may contribute to obesity in children. These include:
- The child’s diet and physical activity
- Lack of sleep
- Lack of access to, and opportunities for, physical activity
- Lack of access to healthy, nutritious foods
How can you help your child avoid the risk of childhood obesity?
- Provide healthy, nutritious options. Make sure your child has a well-balanced diet of protein, fruits, and vegetables, and whole grains. You can set a good example for your child by eating healthy foods as a family.
- Make sure your child is staying hydrated. Always opt for water over sugary drinks like soda.
- Encourage your child to get moving. It is recommended that children get at least an hour of physical activity per day. Exercise impacts not only a child’s weight, but also their sleep quality, focus, and mental health.
Ways for schools and communities to get involved:
A child’s best chance at getting good exercise and eating a healthy meal may be at school. Schools should make sure they provide opportunities to children to be active during each school day. Schools can also provide affordable, healthy food options to children.
Neighborhoods and communities should make sure that children have safe, accessible areas to be active and play outside. This can have a big impact on children’s physical and mental health.