Home > Kids > Fitness and Nutrition > Childhood Obesity > Obesity Among Children
|

Obesity Among Children

Obesity Epidemic
It's not "cool" to be fat, but that has not prevented an obesity epidemic from occurring among America's youth. Childhood obesity increased from 5 percent in 1964 to about 13 percent in 1994. Today, it is about 20 percent – and rising.

Excessive time spent watching television, using the computer, and playing video games is partly to blame for this escalating rate. Children, on average, spend up to five to six hours a day involved in these sedentary activities. Perhaps it wouldn't matter if they were sufficiently active at other times, but most of them aren't.

To make matters worse, children are bombarded with well-crafted TV ads from fast-food chains and other purveyors of high-fat, high-sugar meals and snacks. A recent study reported that two-to-six-year-olds who watch television are more likely to choose food products advertised on TV than children who do not watch such commercials. These highly effective advertising campaigns, combined with a physically inactive lifestyle, have produced a generation of kids who are at high risk for obesity-associated medical conditions.

Diabetes Threat
The major health threat is the early development of Type 2 diabetes (adult onset), particularly in children with a family history of the disease. Doctors are reporting a surge in young adolescents developing Type 2 diabetes – which can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease, stroke, limb amputations, and blindness. People who develop diabetes in adolescence face a diminished quality of life and shortened life span, particularly if the disease progresses untreated. It's a scary prospect for our children but, in many cases, obesity and diabetes are preventable.

What Parents Can Do
When children are spending most of their free time sitting in front of televisions and computers, they are not outside running, jumping or engaging in team sports that would keep their weight down. Parents need to set limits on the time their children are engaged in passive activities. Pediatricians recommend restricting children to one to two hours per day on TV and computers combined – though older children may need additional time for learning activities.

Parental involvement remains the most important key to our children's healthy diets. Programs to educate parents about nutrition are essential. Fast foods should be consumed only in moderation. Caregivers, who are often busy and harried, must avoid the temptation to whisk their kids into fast-food restaurants or to pick up fast food for dinner at home. Changing eating habits and lifestyles is not easy, but the health benefit for our children is a wonderful payoff for parents willing to take on the task.

Here are important things parents can do to curtail the obesity epidemic among children:

  • Limit TV viewing and time on the computer to one or two hours per day.
  • Encourage participation in physical activity and sports.
  • Curtail visits to fast-food restaurants.
  • Provide nutritious, well-balanced, low-calorie, and low-fat meals.
  • Limit the availability of high-fat and high-sugar snacks in your home.

|


stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks

get ready for school!

We’ve got your
shopping list,
lunch menu,
and more.

GO

highlights

Join BIC on our mission to save handwriting and Fight For Your Write! Writing helps kids become better readers, boosts their confidence and sparks their creativity. Visit BICFightForYourWrite.com to sign our petition to save handwriting!

7 Fun Driveway and Sidewalk Games for Kids
Looking for classic outdoor games kids can play in the driveway or on the sidewalk, just like the good ol' days? From hopscotch to bubble-blowing contests, there's something for all ages!

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

Best Sun Safety Practices for Babies
Follow these sun safety practices for babies to ensure your little one stays safe on the beach and on sunny days all year long.