‘A fat body makes a lean mind’, said someone. And you certainly don’t want that to apply to your child. So here’s the wake-up call- Childhood obesity has taken epidemic proportions in the United States. It is today the most common pediatric medical problem in the country. In an era of fast foods and video games, preventing your child from becoming obese is a challenge.
It’s quite alarming to note that a study conducted earlier this year, by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention shows that about 32 percent of children were overweight, 16 percent were obese and 11 percent were extremely obese. Obesity also seems to be more prevalent among boys than girls. With the problem reaching crisis proportions even junk food makers have expressed that children should be steered toward more healthful choices. So what are the causes of childhood obesity and how can you prevent it?
“Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them”, said James Baldwin at the California Child Obesity Conference in 2003. Children themselves are not entirely responsible for the problem. Adults have a big share in it too. Parents need to develop healthy lifestyles to encourage healthy lifestyles in children. Also, most parents do not spend enough time with children to encourage physical activity everyday. Consequently, children spend most of their time playing video games or watching TV, growing up to be couch potatoes.
Junk food and soda have been primary contributors too. A study conducted by the Kaiser Foundation, a nonprofit organization, found that effect of junk food ads was more on 8-12 year old children, as they are unable to distinguish between ads and TV programs. This age-group is exposed to approximately 21 junk food ads per day. Therefore there is a need to prevent junk food ads during TV programs aimed at children. But before blaming TV ads or junk food manufacturers, here’s what you can do to prevent your child from becoming obese:
- Make your child aware of the ill-effects of eating junk food and the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables.
- Encourage your child to participate in a good amount of physical activity everyday. Make them exercise.
- Monitor their TV-viewing habits and ensure they don’t spend too much time in front of the TV.
- Develop a healthier lifestyle and act as a role-model to your child, because your child imitates you.
It’s time to give this some serious thought, because childhood obesity can cause major health problems like type 2 diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia (disruption of the amount of lipids in the blood), chronic inflammation and Hyperinsulinemia (excess levels of circulating insulin in the blood). It can also cause cardiovascular diseases at later stages. Childhood obesity can be very difficult to cure, since children who are obese are prone to obesity throughout their lives. So think about it. It’s in your hands to make your child lead a healthy life!