Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Fighting childhood obesity!

In 2010, more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese. (CDC) It has even gotten to the point that it is affecting infants. It's no wonder because "more than two-thirds (68.8 percent) of adults are considered to be overweight or obese." (WIN).

Overweight and obese children are more likely to have:
  • Higher risk for cardiovascular disease
  • Prediabetes
  • Bone and joint problems
  • Sleep apnea
  • Social and psychological problems
 It is also shown that children who are overweight or obese will grow up to be overweight or obese as adults. This puts them at risk for:
  • Heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Severe types of cancer ( including cancer of the breast, colon, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, pancreas, gall bladder, thyroid, ovary, cervix, and prostate, as well as multiple myeloma and Hodgkin’s lymphoma)
  • Osteoartheritis

 So what can we do to help the kids? 

There are several ways to help our kids get healthy. The most important thing that you can ever do, as a parent, friend, or family member, for a child is to lead by example! I can't stress this enough. Kids mimic the habits and behaviors that they learn at home. If you are overweight yourself, there is a great chance that your children will be too. As much as you think you can do what you want and tell them to do something else, "Do as I say, not as I do" rarely works. You also don't want to sit down and talk to your child about how they are overweight and you're concerned and they are going to be put on a diet and fitness regime. You never want to single out your child and make them feel bad or guilty about their weight; this only increases the chances of decreased self-esteem and may even push them into eating more and being less active.

Here are a few ways to help your child, without making them feel bad about it:

  • Get active WITH THEM. Play outside with them, take them to a park, go for bike rides together. If they are into technology, get them into playing Wii Sports with you or have them show you how to shake your groove thang with one of the many different Wii dance games. It's active, it's fun, and you're not singling them out. It's great for the adults too because they will increase their fitness level by doing this as well. And it's a great way to interact and bond with your child.
  • Pack them lunch for school. I cannot emphasize enough how much I do not agree with what has become acceptable to serve to kids at school. I believe they have even tried to pass off french fries as vegetables because they are made from potatoes. So pack your kids a lunch. Make it fun and make it delicious, but leave out all the processed junk that their little, growing bodies do not need. 
  • Prepare healthy meals for EVERYONE at home. Creating a meal of pasta for the family, but giving one child a salad and chicken is NOT going to help their self esteem at all, and will only create resentment. If you want your child to be healthy, make sure you focus on the whole family getting healthy together, rather than trying to make little Julie lose weight. 
  • Help them find an activity at school that they can be active in whether that is track, softball, football, or even the marching band. Don't force them into it and don't make it seem that they need to join to lose weight. Just get them involved in something physical where they can make friends and have fun. 
  • Make sure they are getting enough good quality sleep each night. It's a bad idea for them to have TV's or computers in their room because they often stay up until very late and too much stimulation before bed time makes it hard to fall asleep.
  • Try to reduce stress. Stress has been proven over and over to cause weight gain and difficulty losing weight. So talk to your kids, find out what is going on and try to reduce any stress that they may be dealing with. 
  • Drink water, lots of water. Juices and pops are loaded with sugar. Instead of setting your kids up for a crash, a blood sugar crash, have them drink lots of water throughout the day. It will give them energy and is exactly what their bodies need. 
If you have talked to your child about how they have a weight problem and they responded poorly, as is expected if it is addressed as their problem,  Jillian Michaels recommends talking to them and being honest. Explain to them that it isn't their fault and you aren't unhappy with them and that you will love them no matter what, but that you are feeling like you have let them down by not showing them healthy behaviors and that the whole family is going to focus on getting healthy together from now on.

I hope my tips have been helpful. Have a happy Wednesday!

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