Recently I read an article entitled “Childhood obesity creates health risks.” It talked about all of the risk factors for becoming overweight for children and the problems it can cause. I couldn’t agree more that families need to make a choice to be healthy. Parents need to be better educated on how to feed their family more nutritious foods and getting rid of unhealthy foods. The article even suggested getting rid of soda and juice stating that they should be an “occasional treat.” This is great advice! All those empty calories combined with the inactivity of today’s children adds to the risk of becoming obese as a child. Video games need to be limited and exercise needs to be encouraged and what better way to do that then to be active ourselves as adults.
The stigma associated with obesity and being overweight is difficult to deal with for an adult, let alone a child. While there are many factors that can affect a childs risk for obesity; we need to teach our children how to live healthy everyday and how to have a healthy outlook on their bodies. Kids should be offered a variety of healthy foods and taught the importance of taking care of their bodies and exercise at a young age. I feel the best way to do this is to be a living example to our children and include them in our fitness activities. Make a choice as a family to live healthy.
Childhood obesity creates health risks
by Becky Ginos
BOUNTIFUL — Often adults are consumed with “the battle of the bulge.” But what about children?
“Childhood obesity is on the rise,” said Bountiful Nurse Practitioner Stacey Bushell. “Families must make a choice to be healthy.”
According to the Mayo Clinic, childhood obesity is actually a “serious medical condition that affects children and adolescents.” Those extra pounds during childhood can add up to a lifetime of health problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes and elevated cholesterol levels.
“There are genetic factors, but mostly it’s too many stationary activities,” said Bushell. “Kids have too much computer and video game time. Even though the (Nintendo) Wii is movement, it really isn’t exercise — it’s just wiggling.”
Bushell said society contributes to obesity because no one has time to sit down as a family and share a nutritious meal. “We’d be farther ahead if parents understood nutrition better,” she said.
“Soda should be considered an occasional treat. We should stick to basics and get rid of soda and even juice like Capri Suns. They’re just liquid calories. For example, most people don’t realize that you get more out of eating an apple than drinking apple juice.”
The Mayo Clinic lists the following risk factors to children becoming overweight:
• Diet. Avoid fast foods, baked goods and snacks from vending machines.
• Inactivity. Children who are sedentary don’t burn enough calories which can lead to weight gain.
• Genetics. Overweight families could have a genetic predisposition for weight gain. Family habits of eating high-calorie foods and inactivity can contribute to childhood obesity.
• Psychological factors. Overeating can be a coping mechanism for children who have emotional problems. Boredom and stress can also prompt overeating.
• Family factors. Parents are responsible for providing healthy foods at home. Buy nutritious food items and stock the shelves with healthy snacks.
• Socioeconomic factors. Low-income children have a greater risk for obesity. Poverty can prevent parents from having the resources or time to create healthy eating habits.
Children all have different body shapes, and a few extra pounds does not mean a child is obese. Parents should consult a doctor if they are concerned their child is overweight. The doctor can assess whether the child is at risk and determine how to best regulate weight gain.
“We have to recognize that everyone’s body is different,” said Bushell. “We need a healthy outlook on our bodies. We shouldn’t promote looking like a stick as the media does.”
Children who are overweight sometimes suffer from depression and learning problems due to anxiety and social stress. Being teased by their peers can cause low self-esteem in addition to the health risks.
Bushell suggests parents should take an active role in helping their children with weight gain.
“Kids need a variety of good foods,” she said. “Be active. It’s important for kids to walk home from school. If you don’t feel it’s safe for them to walk alone, meet them after school and walk with them.”