When you hear about the obesity epidemic, most of the time we think of the adult population. Now, not only do we have an obesity epidemic with adults, but with our children as well.
How do we determine if a child is obese?
It may be determined if the child’s weight is at least ten percent higher than what is recommended for their height and body type. It can also be determined by using the BMI chart (Body Mass Index). BMI is calculated from a child’s weight and height. After the BMI is calculated, the number is then plotted on the BMI-for-age growth chart to obtain a percentile ranking. If your child plots equal to or greater than the 95th percentile, this is considered obese.
A lot of schools have started measuring the BMI of their students and providing this information to parents. This informs the parents that they need to start making healthier choices in their home to better themselves and their families.
Many studies have shown that if a child is obese between the ages of 10 and 13, they have an 80 percent chance of becoming an obese adult. In addition to that, if one parent is obese, there is a 50 percent chance that the child will also be obese. If both parents are obese, the child has an 80 percent chance of being obese.
Contributing Factors to Obesity
We all know the basics of weight gain: if you consume more calories that you expend, it will lead to weight gain. If you are maintaining your weight, you have a good balance of the calories you are consuming. Remember, a pound of body weight is 3,500 calories. An extra 500 calories a day can lead to 1 pound of weight gain a week. You can reduce your caloric intake by 500 calories a day to lose 1 pound a week.
Obesity can be related to:
- Poor eating habits
- Overeating; big portions
- Physical inactivity
- Family history of obesity
- Some medical illnesses
- Some medications
- Family and social problems
- Low self esteem
Health problems from obesity:
- Heart disease that may be attributed to high cholesterol and high blood pressure
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Breathing problems
- Social discrimination
Remember that growing children do not need to go on “diets”. They need healthier eating habits that should be encouraged from their home.
Families have to work together to overcome this overwhelming epidemic. You cannot single out one person in your house for being obese. What works for them will work for everyone. There is not a special diet they need to follow, it is healthy eating and this works for everyone!
Ways to Start Healthy Habits
- Encouraging your child to try new fruits and vegetables with meals and snacks is a great way to start. These foods are the lowest in calories, virtually fat-free, enriched with vitamins and minerals and have a good source of fiber.
- Look for whole grains, but aim for a good source of fiber as well. This is equivalent to three grams or more of fiber per serving.
- Low fat dairy products: 1% or less.
- Lean sources of meat, poultry, fish and beans.
- Plenty of water for adequate hydration. Dehydration can be mistaken for hunger!!
- Eliminate sugar containing beverages such as soda, juice, energy drinks and sport drinks.
- Monitor portions of all foods.
- Increase physical activity as a family!
- Food should not be used as a reward.
- Enjoy family mealtime.
By making these small changes, you don’t have to give up your favorite foods or recipes. You can always make modifications to recipes and have your favorite food…in moderation. Variety and balance is the key. When you work at this, as a family, it is a win-win situation. Together, everyone will make better choices with meals and snacks, be more active and healthier.
Adapted from: Healthy Weight: Assessing Your Weight: BMI: About BMI for Children and Teens | DNPAO | CDC
Obesity In Children And Teens. American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. No. 79; Updated May 2008.
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