Childhood Obesity | What You Can Do to Raise Healthy Kids

Posted on Aug 16th 2013 by Victoria Edwards

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Obesity is a serious health concern for children and adolescents. According to the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity has more than tripled in the last 30 years, and in 2011, 13% of U.S. high school students were identified as obese. Obesity is defined as having excess body fat as a result of more calories being consumed than what is being burned. Childhood obesity is often referred to as an epidemic because the health impact is both immediate (sleep apnea, high blood pressure, and social/psychological problems), and long term. In fact, children and adolescents who are obese or overweight are more likely to become obese adults, putting them at greater risk for a host of health problems, including:
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Cancer (breast, colon, prostate, ovarian, cervix and others)
  • Osteoarthritis
So what can we do to help our kids? We can take time to give them the life-long gift of health. Lifestyle Choices Make a Difference In our fast-paced society, it’s often easier to go to the drive-thru for high-fat fast foods than to cook a meal at home. Add this to the rising use of video games, computers and television, and our kids are not only eating poorly, they’re spending more time sitting down, and less time being active. That’s a recipe for disaster. You can turn this around by focusing on overall good health (not a certain weight goal) and teaching and modeling healthy and positive relationships with food and physical activity. Help your child make good choices by: Make good snack choices easily accessible to your child, by promoting Healthy Snacking
  • Keep (washed/prepared) baby carrots, celery, grapes, strawberries and blueberries at eye-level in the fridge
  • Keep fruits like apples and oranges in a bowl on a low countertop
  • Replace a candy dish with nuts and seeds, like sunflower or pumpkin
  • Stock up on low fat yogurt and cheese cubes
  • Store tempting foods (cookies, chips and ice cream) out of sight, like on a high shelf or in the back of the freezer
Teaching Your Kids the Joy of Cooking
  • Most kids love to cook and are more likely to eat what they prepare, so make cooking healthy, nutritious meals a family affair. Not only will dinner become less of a chore, cooking together is a great way to model healthy habits and talk about good food choices.
  • Hydrating Them with H2O
  • 80% of U.S. kids drink sugar-sweetened drinks, which are high in calories and sugar. Drinking plain water is good for hydration and helps kids feel fuller between snacks and meals.
Keeping Them Active As a parent, you have a big impact on your child's attitude about physical activity. Encourage one hour of daily activity, whether it’s an organized sport or freestyle fun. You can:
  • Make physical activity a part of your family's daily routine by taking family walks or bike rides, or playing active games together
  • Stay positive about any activity your child chooses and suggest new ones to try like skateboarding, roller skating or street hockey
  • Make physical activity fun by signing your child up for a team or individual sport, going to the playground and/or community pool, or bowling
With small changes and some diligence, you can help build healthy habits for life. Resources:

Filed under: Mind/Body/Soul  

Victoria Edwards

Victoria Edwards is the Digital Content Strategist for Florida Blue. You can find her tweeting on her own personal handle at, @TallChickVic. When she’s not working on content or social media, she loves blogging for other online publications, like Search Engine Watch or keeping fit by running, playing tennis or swimming.

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