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Tips for Parents to Help Prevent Childhood Obesity

As parents we should hold ourselves accountable to help our kids lead a healthy and fit lifestyle. If you have yet to do so, it’s time to step up and take charge of your child’s health to help prevent even more serious health issues in their later years.  

Here are some tips that may help you help your child:

  1. “Practice what you preach.” Asking a child to do something you are unwilling to do yourself will typically yield poor results. Take the reigns and lead by example. By staying active and eating healthy, we can more successfully encourage our kids to do the same.
  2. Keep the junk food at a distance. It’s typical for parents to do the grocery shopping for the household; giving us the ability to determine which types of foods will be found in the pantry, in the refrigerator, and on the dinner table.
  3. Limit Trips to the Drive Thru. It’s also typical for the parent to be the one to take our kids through the drive-thru window, buy them sugary snacks at the store, and supersize their meals. Limit drive-thru trips to a once-a-week treat and find healthy replacements where you can. Instead of giving them a sweet treat from Baskin Robins or Dairy Queen, make frozen yogurt their only choice.
  4. Encourage your kids to just be kids and let them play. Todays’ technology era makes it too easy for kids to just sit around while being entertained. Limit time with electronics, and designate more time for walks outside, family bike rides, trips to the playground, and participation in recreational sports. 

How do you know if Your Child is Overweight?

Parents shouldn’t make changes to a child’s overall diet based merely on perceptions of overweight. All toddlers and preschoolers exhibit their own individual body structure and growth patterns.

Measuring obesity in children can be challenging because children grow in unpredictable spurts, making it all the more important for obesity to be determined by a health care professional.

Your child’s pediatrician will most likely use their height and weight in relation to their previous growth history to establish if there is cause for concern.

Health Risks Connected to Childhood Obesity

With a continued rising trend in childhood obesity in the United States over the past few decades, doctors and scientists emphasize the serious health complications our children and adolescents can be subjected to while being overweight.

  • Type 2 Diabetes. In recent years, Type 2 diabetes has begun to appear as a health-related problem among children and adolescents, and has been increasingly reported in those who are overweight.  Onset of diabetes at a young age can result in advanced complications such as cardiovascular disease and kidney failure.
  • Cardiovascular Disease. Obese children and teens have been found to have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels.
  • Asthma. Studies have detected an association between childhood obesity and asthma- a disease of the lungs in which the airways become blocked or narrowed causing difficulty in breathing.
  • Psychosocial risks. Unfortunately in today’s society, obese children and teens are targets of early bullying and discrimination. The physiological stress of social stigmatization can cause low self-esteem which, in turn can effect academic and social functioning.