Childhood obesity is becoming a major problem in the United States. More than twenty three million or one in every five children is found to be overweight or obese and this number is continuing to rise. These overweight children are prone to becoming overweight adolescents or adults. They are also at risk for developing bone and joint problems, diabetes, and psychological issues such as low self esteem and depression.
There are many factors that contribute to childhood obesity. Genetics can definitely play a role but there are other reasons such as environment, lack of physical activity, unhealthy eating patterns, and hormonal issues. Hormonal problems are rarely found to be the cause but a simple exam and blood work can rule out this possibility. Today, children spend most of their time in front of the television, video games, or computer. They are spending less and less time engaging in physical activity such as playing sports or outside with friends. Poor eating habits and poor choices of food can also play a major role in this epidemic. Fast foods and sugary foods often dominate our diets due to the fact that they are quick and easy and taste good.
Education and awareness are key in preventing childhood obesity. All parties involved in a child’s life should be proactive in ensuring that they are eating healthy and getting the necessary exercise. Parents can talk to their children about healthy food choices and make it about a healthy change for the whole family. Keep fresh fruit or cut up vegetables within their children’s reach and offer water or a low calorie drink instead of soda or juice. Families can also make exercise fun by being creative. Plan a hike together or go for a bike ride. Schools also need to get involved by providing opportunities for children to learn about and practice healthy eating and physical activity behaviors. By educating our children at home and at school, we can not only create healthy children, but also healthy future adults.