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Childhood Obesity Awareness: A Health Concern We should All Take Seriously

Sep 6, 2021

What to Know About Self-Improvement Month In September

Childhood obesity has increased in the past decade and is now a significant public health concern. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), roughly 1 in 5 children in the United States is considered obese. There are many potential causes, but one of the most critical factors is how our children live their daily lives – the more sedentary, the greater the chance of weight gain. With September recognized as National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, it’s important to recognize what obesity means in children, potential causes and tips for prevention.

What Is Childhood Obesity and How is it Measured?

Obesity for anyone is considered to be a serious, chronic disease. For children, it can pose many different concerns, both physically and socially. Compared to those who are considered a healthy weight, children who are considered overweight or obese are at greater risk of developing asthma, sleep apnea, bone and joint problems, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. They also are more likely to experience bullying, social isolation, depression and low self-esteem.

Determining a child or teen’s weight status is typically done using the body mass index (BMI). These are age- and sex-specific measurements used by physicians to measure growth patterns across the U.S. and when calculated, fall into corresponding percentiles. Children whose measurements place them in the 5th percentile to less than the 85th percentile are considered a healthy weight; those in the 85th percentile to less than the 95th percentile are considered overweight; measurements that are in the 95th percentile or above are considered obese.

Causes of Childhood Obesity

The causes of childhood obesity comprise of numerous factors, much like those in adults, including genetic predisposition and behavior. Children who are physically inactive or participate regularly in sedentary activities like watching television, consume many high-calorie, low-nutrient foods and beverages, use certain medications, or have a poor sleep routine are at greater risk of becoming obese.

Tips for Reducing Childhood Obesity

Fortunately, there are many ways you can encourage your children or those under your care to develop healthier habits to prevent or reduce the risk of childhood obesity.

  • Provide vegetables, fruits and whole-grain products for snacks and meals
  • Include low-fat or non-fat milk or dairy products, like cheese and yogurt, in their diets
  • For protein, choose only lean meats, poultry, fish, lentils and beans
  • Encourage them to drink lots of water instead of juices or sugary drinks
  • Limit the amount of sugar and saturated fat they consume
  • Encourage regular physical activity
  • Limit screen time
  • Ensure they are regularly getting adequate, restful sleep

If your child is already considered overweight, do not place them on any sort of diet without consulting with their health provider or pediatrician in order to continue allowing for normal growth and development.

The Bottom Line

Childhood obesity has increased in the past decade and is now a significant public health concern. However, there are many ways to help reduce the risk of childhood obesity. At Midwest Express Clinic, our primary goal is to help promote overall wellness in our communities, and part of that is by preventing childhood obesity. Pediatric obesity is a significant problem in our country, and we want to do our part to make sure that children are active, healthy and happy.

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