Google+ Authentic Parenting: Childhood Obesity

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Childhood Obesity

written by Sally

Many experts indicate that the current generation of children may not outlive their parents due to chronic diseases associated with childhood obesity. Obesity is an epidemic responsible for conditions like high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes in children. These two conditions were previously seen in adults. As a result of the increase in these illnesses at a younger age, health insurance and medical costs will be impacted.

Unhealthy eating habits contribute to childhood obesity

One reason for the rise of childhood obesity over the last two decades is the abundance of high calorie and high fat foods available to children. Today's busy families eat out more than those in the past. They spend about half of their food budget on foods eaten away from home. When children get a steady diet of hamburgers, french fries, fried chicken and pizza, it is very easy to put on weight. Add to these foods unhealthy calorie-laden soft drinks, and it is no wonder children are getting heavier.

The lack of physical activity is a factor in childhood obesity

Schools have reduced the amount of time children spend playing outside. In times past, recess was an important part of every school day. Currently, in most schools children are not engaged in daily physical activity. There is a strong emphasis on end of grade testing, so academic preparation takes precedence over physical activity. At home children are often sedentary because of interest in video games and computers.

What can be done to address childhood obesity?

There are ways to stem the tide of childhood obesity. First, children should consume healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products. Fruits and vegetables contain healthy nutrients and fiber. Fiber helps the body feel full and that means children will eat less. Older children should consume whole fruits rather than fruit juice. Fruit juice contains a lot of calories from sugar. Low-fat dairy products help children build strong bones.

Foods prepared at home tend to be healthier than fast foods. Meats and poultry prepared at home can be cooked in healthy ways such as grilling, baking or broiling. This reduces the amount of fat. A home prepared meal can contain less than half of the calories in a typical fast food meal. Preparing meals at home is also a way to reduce the amount of salt, sugar and cholesterol children consume. Taking time to eat a home prepared meal also causes families to eat at a slower pace which can lead to eating less, rather than gulping large amounts of food.

Helping children increase physical activity is another way to combat the obesity epidemic. Physical activity is important in controlling weight because it burns calories that would otherwise be stored as body fat. Children should play outside or get some type of moderate physical activity at least 60 minutes each day. This can be achieved by helping with outdoor chores like washing the car, weeding the garden and walking the dog. Adults can help children to be active outdoors by limiting screen time. Screen time includes television, video games and computers.

Sally is into everything healthy, she blogs at Eat, Breathe, Blog


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