While many parents are concerned about stomachaches and playground injuries, another threat to your children’s health is far more common. Childhood obesity has become a widespread concern in the U.S., with the number of overweight children tripling since the 1970s. To help raise awareness about this important problem, September has been named National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. Here, Chai Urgent Care breaks down everything you need to know about the risks and how you can help.
The Risks of Childhood Obesity
Similar to excess weight in adults, childhood obesity brings many health risks. One important difference, however, is that these dangers can be even greater in kids due to early-onset. Obesity elevates a child’s risk for high cholesterol, heart disease, type-2 diabetes, and other serious conditions. Research even suggests that obesity puts individuals at an elevated risk of cancer.
Additionally, obese children are statistically more likely to grow into obese adults. This substantially increases their risk of developing the conditions named above, even if they do not present during childhood. Obesity can also contribute to anxiety and depression, reduce participation in physical activities, and even result in feelings of isolation.
Causes of Childhood Obesity
Understanding the causes of childhood obesity can help parents guide kids toward a healthier path. While many factors contribute, common causes include:
- Lack of physical activity
- Unhealthy diet
- Lack of sleep
- Socio-economic factors, such as lack of access to healthy food and activities
No matter the reason, it’s important to seek help for children struggling to maintain a healthy weight. Fortunately, parents can take many simple steps to encourage positive change.
How to Help
Whether your child has been diagnosed as obese or you’re concerned about his or her eating habits and activity level, it’s never too late to focus on good health. Fortunately, National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month is a great time to have a conversation with kids and work toward better habits. Here are a few easy ways to get started.
- Emphasize fun physical activity: Limit screen use, and make time for visits to parks and playgrounds or playing in the yard.
- Eat together: Schedule family dinners at a consistent time each day. As you eat, focus on food and conversation – stay off cell phones and avoid watching TV.
- Model good choices: Choose healthy portions and nutritious foods. Show kids you enjoy these foods and how to eat in moderation.
- Shop the edges: Focus on foods from the perimeters of the grocery store where fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains are found. Skip aisles that include junk food.
- Choose water: With zero calories and no sugar, water is a healthy alternative to soda and can help fill kids up between meals.
Your pediatrician should also provide suggestions for healthy eating, physical activity, and other lifestyle changes. During a wellness visit, kids can speak with a healthcare professional in a compassionate, age-appropriate way about the importance of maintaining a healthy weight. Changing habits is never easy, but it’s essential to take steps toward better well-being for everyone.
Join the Fight Against Childhood Obesity
As a parent, keeping your kids safe and healthy is your first priority. Whether your child needs help with weight management or other pediatric care, Chai Urgent Care is here for you. Visit one of our locations in New York and New Jersey today – there’s no need for an appointment, and our pediatrician is available every day until midnight. We keep wait times short and accept all insurance to help parents get their children the quality care they deserve.