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Facts you should know about the risks of obesity in children

Facts you should know about the risks of obesity in children

Facts you should know about the risks of obesity in children 

 There is a threat to our children today that often flies under the radar: childhood obesity. Every parent wants the best for their children, right? But this should include proper nutrition and weight management. The numbers are frightening – more than 18% of children in the world are obese. This epidemic comes with serious health risks. Demystifying the causes of childhood obesity can be daunting given constantly changing social and cultural norms.

The good news is that there are ways we can take to address this health issue. As parents, we have the power to influence our children into adapting healthy habits that will serve them for a lifetime. Furthermore, preparing healthy meals, limiting sugary drinks and snacks, and encouraging outdoor play – these are simple changes that can have a big impact. The health and well-being of our children is worth the effort. We need to realize that the risks of childhood obesity are real. From here we can start making the necessary changes. 

 How common is obesity in children?

Numbers don't lie, childhood obesity has become an epidemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 1 in 5 school-age children and youth (ages 6 to 19) in the United States are obese. That's a staggering 18.5% - more than 13 million children. Rates are higher in Hispanic and African American communities, where one in three children is obese.

With obesity comes a myriad of health problems that you never want your child to face. Consider whether your child has diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, joint problems, and low self-esteem. Obese children often become obese adults and are more susceptible to diseases that can shorten their lives. Acting now can help them in the future.

The causes of this crisis are complex, ranging from lack of physical activity and unhealthy diets to economic and social factors. Parents must take action immediately if we want to ensure the long-term health of our children. Furthermore, we need to limit screen time and encourage outdoor play and exercise. It is also essential to provide healthy home-cooked meals and educate children about nutrition.

Small changes can make a big difference. Replace juice with water and whole grains with processed carbohydrates. Buy seasonal fruits and vegetables. Measure one serving per child. Teach your children healthy habits that they will carry for life.

Our children deserve a healthy future. By taking steps now to promote exercise and good nutrition, we can reverse this alarming trend and help children reach their full potential. Their lives depend on it.

Health risks: Why childhood obesity is dangerous

Parents want their children to grow up happy and healthy, that's a given. Unfortunately, childhood obesity exposes our children to serious health risks that every parent should be aware of:

  • Heart disease and high blood pressure. Excess weight puts pressure on the heart and blood vessels, even in children. Obese children are more likely to develop high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart disease.
  • Diabetes. Type 2 diabetes was once called “adult-onset” diabetes, but it is now appearing in obese children at alarming rates. Excess weight and unhealthy diets are major contributors.
  • Sleep Apnea. Excess fat around the neck and airway can hinder breathing during sleep in overweight children. This can lead to poor sleep, low oxygen levels, and behavioral problems.
  • Common problems. Carrying too much weight puts increased stress on children's joints, muscles and bones as they grow. This can cause pain, limited mobility, and long-term joint damage.
  • Psychological issues. Obese children often face bullying, low self-esteem, and depression. They may develop unhealthy relationships with food and their body image.

Ensuring the health of our children begins with nutrition and proper weight management. Clearly, childhood obesity opens the doors to more health concerns. As such, it makes sense to treat this health issue early.

Disease prevention

The risks of childhood obesity are real and serious. Obese children are more likely to develop life-threatening diseases that used to only affect adults, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

According to the CDC, about 1 in 5 children in the United States are obese. Obese children have an 80% chance of becoming obese as adults, and obese adults have a greater risk of heart disease, stroke and at least 13 types of cancer.

  • Type 2 Diabetes – Excess body fat and inactivity put pressure on the body's ability to use insulin to control blood sugar levels. Nearly one-third of obese children will develop diabetes in their lifetime. Healthy food choices ensure your kids get the right nutrients minus the ill effects of high-sugar snacks and empty calories. Likewise, exercise and physical activity allow your child to process food, become physically fit and help in gaining proper metabolism.
  • High blood pressure – Excess weight makes the heart work harder to pump blood through the body. This can lead to high blood pressure, even in children and teenagers. Addressing physical health is an essential step in preventing high blood pressure. Likewise, understanding the difference between good and bad cholesterol will help in preparing healthy food. Finally, proper rest and relaxation reduces stress in children.
  • Heart disease – Fat buildup in the arteries (atherosclerosis) can begin in childhood, increasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes later. To avoid heart disease in children, it is necessary to provide balanced meals, adequate physical activities, and most importantly, a healthy mind.

It is alarming that health concerns such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease were previously focused on adults. But due to childhood obesity, even our children are now falling prey to such diseases. Undoubtedly, your immediate attention and action are required.

Promoting healthy habits in children 

As parents, one of the most important tasks you can do is to help your children develop healthy habits early. The habits they form now will shape their relationship with nutrition and exercise for life. Combating childhood obesity requires serious attention.

Children often imitate their parents' behaviors. So, make sure you practice what you preach. Cook nutritious meals, limit screen time and snacks, and exercise regularly. Let your kids see you doing it and invite them to join. They will be more likely to adopt these habits themselves.

Get your kids involved in meal planning

Ask your children to help choose and prepare healthy meals. Allow them to choose between options such as grilled chicken, fish, salad, or side vegetables. Children are more likely to eat foods they helped make. Involving them also teaches them valuable nutritional skills to use for a lifetime.

  • Try new healthy options. 
  • Bring them to the grocery store and let them help choose healthy food.
  • Teach them different, healthier cooking techniques.
  • Offer alternatives to foods with questionable health effects.
  • Let your kids explore different tastes and textures.
  • Limit screen time and encourage play. Excessive TV, phone, and computer use is linked to obesity and poor health in children. Set limits on screen time and encourage outdoor play and activities instead. Play games together as a family such as football or cycling. Make physical activity a fun and social time, not a chore.
  • Discover different sports.
  • Enjoy quiet times without tools - writing.
  • Talking and doing activities as a family

Teaching children moderation in eating 

Help children understand that no food is “bad” in moderation. Occasional treatment is fine, as long as balance is maintained. Portion control and moderation are key concepts to lifelong health and weight management. Set limits on snacking and teach kids to listen when their body tells them they're full. By reinforcing healthy habits at home, parents can set their kids up to win on nutrition and fitness for years to come. Focus on balance and moderation, make physical activity fun, and involve your children in the process. Their lifelong well-being will be the reward!

How obesity can affect a child's physical and emotional development

Childhood obesity can affect how children develop physically and emotionally. Excess weight puts extra stress on the body, especially the bones and joints. This can cause pain, discomfort, and poor mobility, which prevents physical activity and participation in sports.

Overweight children may also suffer from psychological problems such as low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression. They are more vulnerable to bullying and teasing by other children, which can negatively impact their mental health and emotional well-being.

Health risks

Obese children and teens are more likely to develop serious health problems at an early age, such as:

  • High blood pressure and high cholesterol, which are risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
  • Pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes. The high rates of diabetes in children are alarming.
  • Asthma and sleep apnea. Excess weight can make it difficult to breathe properly.
  • Liver and gallbladder diseases. The liver has to work harder to break down excess body fat.
  • Some types of cancer, such as colon cancer and breast cancer. The scary fact is that obese children tend to become obese as adults, and are more likely to develop chronic diseases early in life. Parents should take action to help children reach a healthy weight through balanced nutrition and regular exercise before long-term effects take hold. Making healthy changes as a family is the best way to support a child's well-being and set them up for future success.

By understanding how childhood obesity affects growth and development, parents can make fully informed decisions to protect their children's health. Taking steps to establish good habits at an early age is key to overcoming this serious health problem.