September is Childhood Obesity Awareness month; follow these tips

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Childhood obesity is one of the biggest health issues we have in the United States. National Childhood Obesity Awareness month aims to raise recognition of the severity of the childhood obesity issue in America and to share the benefits of healthy eating, and active living so children of America can lead prosperous and productive lives.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years, with more than one third of children and adolescents being overweight or obese in 2012. Being obese during childhood and adolescence sets youth up for health risks later in life, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, joint and bone problems and various types of cancer.

The statistics may seem discouraging, but there has actually been some progression in the fight against childhood obesity. CDC data from 2012 showed that child obesity rates have fallen slightly among children ages 2 to 5. However, more than 8 percent of children ages 2 to 5 are obese.

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In a 2015 report, The State of Obesity in America, nearly 17 percent of 2 to 19 years olds in the United States are obese and 31.8 percent are either obese or overweight.

In Alabama the current obesity rate for children 2 to 4 in low-income families is 14.1 percent and 18.6 percent for youth 10 to 17. Among children and teens ages 2 to 19 in Alabama, 22.5 percent of Latinos, more than 20 percent of Blacks and 14.1 percent of Whites are obese.

There are many action steps we can take to ensure children in our country continue to maintain healthy and active lifestyles.

They are:
Choose Healthy Eating Habits

Children who overeat and/or do not ingest enough nutrients in their diets are major contributors to childhood obesity. Some proactive measures that can be taken to get your child on the healthy eating track are:

• Limiting your child’s consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and offering water as a zero-calorie alternative

• Providing plenty of fruits and vegetables both at meals and snack time

• Limiting eating out, especially at fast food restaurants

• Adjusting portion sizes appropriately for age


Get Moving

Physical activity is a crucial component to staying healthy. Not only does it help with weight control, it also reduces the risk of further health issues and improves mental health and mood as a whole. Parents can promote active lifestyles for their children by:

• Ensuring they get the recommended amount of physical activity each day (60 minutes). The CDC provides a list of age appropriate aerobic, muscle and bone strengthening activities.

• Praising the importance of staying active. Studies show that children are more likely to be physically active if they believe they are competent and have the ability to be physically active

• Enrolling your child in local sports leagues and active camps

One of the most important things a parent can do is be a role model. If we want our children to move more we have to move more too.
Maintain a Healthy Energy Balance

Energy balance is important for maintaining a healthy weight, especially in the ongoing development of children. In order to make certain your children maintain a healthy energy balance:

• Limit TV and other “screen time” (video games, iPad, etc.) to less than two hours a day and consider keeping these technology devices out of the bedroom

• Make sure your child gets an adequate amount of sleeping, ranging from nine to 14 hours depending on age and

• Avoid excessive caffeine

By following these action steps we ensure children in our country will continue to maintain healthy and active lifestyles.