Healthy Choices to Overcome Childhood Obesity
Most researchers estimate approximately one in every three children in the U.S. to be overweight or obese, playing into an epidemic that is a driver of health care costs that burden Watertree Health cardholders as much as everyone in America. September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, so let’s talk about the dangers of obesity and the best ways to keep our kids healthy.
What is causing this surge in childhood obesity?Several factors are driving the numbers upward, and while no single one is totally responsible, they commonly include some combination of:
- Lack of physical activity: excessive time spent doing sedentary activities (watching TV,
using tablet computers, using cell phones, playing video games)
- Inadequate access to safe spaces to play and exercise
- Inadequate access to healthy foods
- Excessive intake of high-calorie drinks and foods
What are the health risks of childhood obesity?Obese children are at increased risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heartburn, gallstones, type 2 diabetes, asthma, and joint problems, but the biggest issue is that, if obese while young, they are highly likely to be as adults. As parents, we also worry as much about the emotional impacts, the self-esteem issues, bullying and, in some cases, depression, which can cause children to begin to withdraw.
What are the best ways to prevent childhood obesity?We don’t need a vaccine, a special cure, or any fancy medical equipment to tackle this problem. Here are some simple ways you can help your children:
- Limit your children’s total screen time to less than two hours per day – Encourage physical activity!
- Encourage your kids to drink water instead of high-calorie sodas and juice-drinks.
- Your children don’t necessarily need to eat less food overall, but to eat more nutrient-dense options like fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy (less junk food).
- Help your kids to reframe their diet. Take them to the grocery store and let them pick out vegetables they’d like to try! In the spring and summer, start a garden or visit local farmers’ markets. Check out children’s cookbooks and let your kids help prepare meals. Try to make eating healthy a fun thing to do.
- Look outward as well. Many communities need more actively involved citizens to lobby their governments to build or improve access to healthy food and safe play spaces. Also, make your vote count—help enact laws that require clear nutrition labeling on fast foods, limit junk food advertising and other ways to help the fight against childhood obesity.
If your child is on a medication and you need help affording the prescription, download a free Watertree Health Prescription Discount Card or request a card be mailed to you. It provides significant discounts on almost all recommended medications (brand and generic). Most experts agree, taking your medicines as prescribed improves overall health and wellbeing and lowers cost of health care for everyone.
Instructions and Disclaimer: The content on this website is designed for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses. Always consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your health.
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