If you are a parent seeking a basic understanding of the causes and consequences of obesity in childhood and how to prevent it, keep reading for some amazing information!
In the United States, the percentage of children affected by obesity is rising. In fact, it has more than tripled since the 1970s. For parents today, this is a problem that cannot be ignored. Obesity is not merely a cosmetic issue. It is a health concern that puts kids at risk for many serious medical conditions that can affect their lives now and in the future.
What Parents Need To Know About Childhood Obesity
For children who already have other physical or mental challenges to overcome, such as those in neurodiverse families, it is even more crucial that parents be aware of the dangers of obesity and take steps to prevent it. In many cases, a parental intervention can make all the difference in establishing a healthy foundation for life.
If you are a mom or dad seeking a basic understanding of the causes and consequences of obesity in childhood — along with the best ways to avoid it — here is what you need to know.
Risk Factors for Childhood Obesity
Many factors contribute to excess childhood weight gain. These are a few examples:
- Genetics predisposed to obesity
- A slower metabolism
- Living in a neighborhood where physical activity isn’t convenient
- Lack of solid nutritional understanding to make healthy choices
- Regular exposure to advertising promoting unhealthy foods
- Limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables
- Poor eating behaviors
- A sedentary lifestyle
- Absence of physical education at school
- Poor sleep habits
If any of the above items apply to your child, he or she may be headed toward weight issues. Even more seriously, he or she could be at risk for the many diseases and health problems related to excess weight.
Taking steps to recognize and address your child’s risk factors can lower the odds that he or she will develop obesity-related health conditions. These include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, impaired glucose tolerance, insulin resistance, Type 2 diabetes, breathing difficulties, bone problems, depression, anxiety, sleep apnea, and even cancer. In addition, various social consequences are tied to obesity in childhood, such as being stigmatized, bullied, or excluded.
In other words, encouraging the right habits to protect your son or daughter from a lifetime of health complications starts now.
How You Can Help Prevent Childhood Obesity
There are plenty of ways parents can equip their children to make healthy choices. Here are a few suggestions to get started:
- Decrease TV, video games, and computer time. The more time a child spends sitting on the couch or at the computer, the more sedentary their lifestyle, the more likely weight gain becomes. Rather than letting kids waste hours in front of screens, encourage them to play outside or with friends. As children stay active with sports, bike riding, and other active pastimes, they’ll burn calories and develop muscles.
- Practice healthy eating as a family. Eliminate soft drinks, most juices, and high-sugar foods, moving toward fresh and nutritious eating instead. When the whole family eats a healthy diet, it will feel normal and natural to your child.
- Eat out less often. Rather than relying on takeout or fast food for meals, try to decrease the number of times you eat out each week. It’s easier to fill food with healthy, fresh ingredients that are good for everyone when you prepare it at home.
10 Practical Strategies to Consider
These ideas are only some of the steps parents can take to prevent childhood obesity and prepare kids for healthy lives. To learn more, consult the accompanying infographic, which includes ten practical strategies to help children and adolescents avoid a lifetime of being overweight.
This infographic was created by Kids Car Donations
Kids Car Donations is a national organization that accepts vehicle donations to better the lives of children. The organization partners with several well-known nonprofits serving children and teens who are confronted with physical, mental, and emotional challenges to provide the care they need.