Preventing Childhood Obesity

Preventing Childhood Obesity

childhood_obesity

Obesity among Black girls and boys continues to rise. What can I do as a parent or guardian to help prevent childhood overweight and obesity?

To help your child maintain a healthy weight, balance the calories your child consumes from foods and beverages with the calories your child uses through physical activity and normal growth.

Since the mid-1970s, the number of overweight black boys over the age of six has tripled. And today, one out of four black girls over the age of six is overweight. The ChildTrends Data Bank describes the consequences:

Children who are overweight are at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular problems, orthopedic abnormalities, gout, arthritis, and skin problems. Childhood obesity has been linked to the premature onset of puberty. In addition, being overweight can negatively affect children’s social and psychological development. A recent study found bullying and obesity in children to be positively correlated, with physical activity decreasing as victimization increased.

The health threats posed by being an overweight child can be long lasting. Children and adolescents who are overweight are at risk for becoming overweight adults. Overweight adults face many problems due to their weight, such as decreased productivity, social stigmatization, high health care costs, and premature death. In addition, overweight adults are at increased risk for type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, elevated blood pressure, stroke, respiratory problems, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, and some types of cancer.

Remember that the goal for overweight and obese children and teens is to reduce the rate of weight gain while allowing normal growth and development. Children and teens should NOT be placed on a weight reduction diet without the consultation of a health care provider.

One part of balancing calories is to eat foods that provide adequate nutrition and an appropriate number of calories. You can help children learn to be aware of what they eat by developing healthy eating habits, looking for ways to make favorite dishes healthier, and reducing calorie-rich temptations.

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