Childhood obesity. It is a shame these two words have to be put together and put together so often. The word childhood should conger up thoughts of children playing, learning, exploring and just having fun. When the word obesity is attached a whole different image comes to mind. Obesity brings to mind heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
Obesity takes the fun out of childhood. Putting the name calling and teasing aside, obese children run the risk of becoming obese adults, resulting in a lifetime of health problems and emotional scars. According to the American Obesity Association, approximately 30% of children between 6-11 years of age are overweight and 15% are obese. Being an adolescent is complicated enough without the added burden that comes with being obese.
So what can we do?
Since children are not the ones doing the grocery shopping, buying the video games that are keeping them indoors or in charge of making their own daily schedules, we must look to the parents. Parents can make small changes that will have huge effects on their children's health for years to come. There is no need to plunk down a huge down payment for a gym membership.
It is small simple changes, baby steps, that tend to be the lasting ones. The change can be as simple as opting to buy grapes instead of Oreos or taking half an hour after dinner to walk around the block with your child. These simple changes will not only benefit your child but you as well. These simple changes can create healthy habits for a lifetime.
Karen Graham, RD
Integrative Nutrition Consultants, LLC