Childhood obesity is becoming an epidemic in America. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of 2012, 18 percent of children ages 6 to 11 and 21 percent of adolescents ages 12 to 19 are considered obese. Two of the largest contributing factors are caloric imbalance and lack of physical activity.
Childhood obesity can be harmful to children in several ways, such as:
- High blood pressure and high cholesterol
- Increased risk of glucose impairment, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes
- Breathing problems like sleep apnea and asthma
- Greater risk of social and psychological problems, such as poor self-esteem
- Higher chance of obesity as an adult
In an effort to combat and prevent childhood obesity, we have compiled a list of fun ways to encourage kids to eat healthy and get active.
Make a Favorite Dish Healthier
Instead of spaghetti and meatballs with regular noodles, try whole-wheat pasta or even get creative and use zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash.
It's important to stay hydrated throughout the day. Drinking water can also make you feel full and less tempted to eat that sugary, fatty snack.
Incorporate Healthy Snacks
If kids are hungry between meals, offer a fruit or veggie instead of ice cream or chips. Ants on a log (celery with peanut butter and raisins) and Greek yogurt with berries are yummy alternatives.
Teach Kids about Serving Size
It's OK to have a Twinkie or snack-size bag of chips. These foods are delicious, but also should be consumed in the smallest serving size.
Get 60 Minutes of Physical Activity Per Day
It's important for children to get up and move around, as it benefits both their physical and mental health. When you exercise, your brain releases chemicals called endorphins, which can help improve your mood.
Limit Screen Time
With all the new gadgets and gizmos available, it's easy to sit for hours on end and stare at a screen. Set a time limit of 30 to 60 minutes for the day, and encourage your kids to get outside or play with other toys.
Below, learn how to calculate your child's risk for being overweight or obese, and the health risks it poses.
Body mass index (BMI) is a measure of body fat based on weight in relation to height. In children, BMI percentile is the best measurement of body fat. A BMI percentile compares your child's BMI to others of the same age and gender. Children with a BMI in the 85th percentile and above are at risk for being overweight or obese. To learn more, visit the CDC's BMI Percentile Calculator for Children and Teens.
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About Pediatric Services
Doylestown Health is committed to providing family-centered children’s services to the community. The Carol and Louis Della Penna Pediatric Center offers expert inpatient care to all ages including infants, children and teens. Della Penna Pediatric Center Services extend beyond the hospital setting to include health and wellness education, nutrition services and other support services within the community.
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