When children are babies, chubby is good. As a baby grows and develops during infancy, they need a diet high in fat. That fat accumulates in those cute little rolls we love to squeeze around their thighs, arms, and belly. As they grow and begin to move around more through crawling and walking, that fat begins to fall away – at least it should. So, when does it stop being baby fat, and start being something to be concerned about, like childhood obesity? That’s something we should all be talking about this September, during National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month.
When is My Child’s Weight a Concern?
Did you know that the rate of childhood obesity in America has doubled in the last 20 years? In fact, 10 percent of preschool age children are considered overweight, and the statistics are even higher for children ages 6-11.
Your pediatrician should monitor your child’s weight and will let you know if childhood obesity is a concern. But, you really don’t want it to get to the point where you need to make changes. There are plenty of preventative measures you can take right now to prevent weight problems in your child’s future. It’s important too, because childhood obesity can have some serious consequences for children, both physically and mentally.
Issues Linked to Childhood Obesity
- Low Self-Esteem and Depression
- Social Isolation and Issues with Bullying at School
- Greater Risk of Developing Type II Diabetes
- Respiratory Issues: Asthma, Sleep Apnea, Shortness of Breath
- Greater Risk of Obesity in Adulthood
- Greater Risk of Developing Heart Disease
How to Prevent Childhood Obesity
Luckily, there are some fairly simple ways that parents can take control of their child’s weight and prevent the risk of childhood obesity. You don’t want to put your child on a diet, but you should aim to balance the amount of calories they consume with how many they burn while being active and through normal growth. Here are some tips to help make that happen.
Eat a Healthy Diet
- Vegetables, fruit and whole grains.
- Calcium through milk and low-fat dairy products.
- Protein through lean meats, fish, and poultry.
Encourage Physical Activity (at least 60 minutes per day)
- Play hide and seek or tag.
- Participate in organized sports such as soccer, basketball, and dance.
- Get your child in swimming lessons.
- Go for family bike rides and walks.
Reduce “Couch” Time
- Limit “screen time” including TV and electronics.
- Eat at the table instead of the couch, including during snack time.
- Play outside after school instead of watching TV.
Childhood obesity is a concern, and definitely something your should be aware of, but it’s very controllable. A little effort on the front end can go a long way towards protecting your child’s health and giving them the best start at a long and healthy life.
What kinds of things do you like to do as a family to encourage a healthy lifestyle? Tell us in the comments below.