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9/08/2015

9:27 PM

Tackling Childhood Obesity at Home

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September was declared "National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month" by the White House in 2010. Obesity amongst children has become an epidemic, with more than 23 million obese or overweight children in America. That's approximately one in three children. These children can face a lifetime of health issues if measures are not taken to get them healthy. Some of the associated risks include chances of heart disease, diabetes, sleep apnea, bone and joint problems, higher risks for cancers, mental health issues and being bullied. 

This is not just a personal problem. It's a national crises. And it is costly. Each obese child costs the healthcare system about $19,000 a year, a staggering $14 billion dollars a year in preventable health care costs.

So what can be done about it? Simply telling a child to eat more vegetables and fruits and be more active won't solve the problem. It takes a family and community focus on promoting healthy and active lifestyles to truly see changes.

Here are some ways to make a difference in your family:

1. Know the healthy weight range for your child

Children have growth spurts so their height and weight ratio changes every couple of months. Each child's growth rate is different so knowing the healthy weight range is important. (Here you can find growth charts for your child 1 month to 20 years of age).

2. Know what you are feeding your child 

A child typically needs 1000-1800 Kcal per day depending on his activity level. A teenagers need may range from 1400 to 2200 Kcal per day. Limit sugar content, add fruit and vegetables to every meal (home made soups and smoothies are the best ways, use a teaspoon of honey instead of sugar) encourage plain water over sodas and juices. Be cautious of foods that have zero nutrients but are full of calories that end up being stored as fat in the body. These include sugary treats like cakes, donuts, pastries, cookies, candies, energy drinks, sodas, foods high in fructose corn syrup etc. 

3. Be an active family

Incorporate an active physical lifestyle, making it a fun and healthy challenge for every member of the family. Activities like Zumba, gymnastics, cycling, swimming, field games like soccer to as simple as walking or jogging together can be a fun way of burning calories.

4. Limit TV / electronic media time

Children and adults sitting in front of some sort of screen for a long period of time can be very hazardous to health in various forms. These devices not only emit radiations that can effect our vision and our hearing abilities but more people seem to be complaining of wrist, finger joint, neck and back pains because of the extended use of these devices and the bad posture we acquire. Not forgetting the long hours we spend just sitting and eating.

5. What to do if you have an overweight child?

If you have determined using the charts here that your child is overweight or crossing the 95th percentile of his height and weight ratio, there are no drastic steps that you need to take. All you need to do is lower the calorie consumption of the child and increase his physical activity so that he burns more. Decreasing 500 Kcal a day will lead to a loss of 1 lb a week. Read labels, replace empty calories with high fibre, chose foods with lower caloric count, shop smart, avoid foods high in fructose corn syrup and take the child out to parks more often so they can run about. Don't panic, be patient, go slow but know there is a problem that needs to be tackled.

Studies and reports indicate that programs to reduce child obesity are not being taken seriously at homes because many children and their parents have a misconception about their weight. A study published in Maternal and Child Nutrition in 2013 reported that 62% of parents with an obese child believed that their child was a healthy weight. The CDC further reports about 30% of obese children and teens in the United States believe their weight was normal. Caregivers need to be better educated about what is truly a healthy weight in order to help their children.

The good news is that all of these health issues are preventable with a change in diet and lifestyle. As with so many things, good habits start in the home, and it's really important that parents take the lead on these programs to make them successful.

ANNOUNCEMENT:

Tickets for the Fall Fish Fry Social are available at $20 now. Last Day of purchasing tickets is 15 October. The Governor CNH, Alan Guire has been invited to install officers for 2015-16. For details about the event, visit website. Thank you.

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