Tuesday, September 11, 2012

National Childhood Obesity Month

national childhood obesity month
The cycle of an Obese Child.
September is National Childhood Obesity Month.  It's become a very important topic of awareness in the United States.  Kids are becoming more and more overweight every year and we need to take control.  There are many doctors who think that obesity in America is caused by poor diet, lack of exercise and technology that encourages a sedentary lifestyle.

Growing up in the 70's and 80's most of us rode our bikes or big wheels around the block, jumped on  a pogo stick or played ball in the street.  I can still hear my Dad's whistle calling us to come in for the day.  From sun up to sun down I was outside playing everything and anything possible.  You couldn't keep me in the house. Things have completely changed since then and now kids spend much more time indoors playing games on their phones, i pads and computers.  Do kids today even know what kick the can is or how to jump on a pogo stick?

Obesity is Becoming an Epidemic
Obesity rates in America have greatly increased over the years.  More than 23 million (yes MILLION) children and teenagers in the United States ages 2 to 19 are obese or overweight. Many experts are calling these high numbers an epidemic. The effects of obesity have put nearly one third of America's children at early risk for Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and even stroke, conditions usually associated with adulthood.

Fast food is another cause of obesity. It has become a comfort food to many kids who eat it daily, sometimes more than 2-3 times a day. In many children's lives, fast food is their main meal. The accessibility of fast food is one reason that obesity in teens has skyrocketed, and they might not be receiving encouragement to make healthier choices and add physical activity. We need to help kids understand that just because it is easy to access doesn't mean it should be eaten daily. There are plenty of alternatives to make eating healthy, easy and enjoyable for kids.
obesity definition
Fruit instead of candy is a great healthy switch!

Alternative snacks for kids
  • Popcorn instead of chips
  • Fruit instead of candy
  • Flavored or just plain water instead of soda or juice
  • Flavored rice cakes instead of crackers
  • Hummus instead of dips
  • Frozen yogurt instead of ice cream
  • Frozen Grapes instead of Popsicles
  • Fruit smoothies instead of high calorie energy drinks

The list is endless and after awhile it becomes easier to think in terms of making smarter and healthier choices for your child when it comes to eating.

We all know that many kids (and adults) love their sweets and junk food. They don't need have to go without them completely, but should make healthier choices more often and eat the junk food in moderation.  Otherwise, they could risk obesity and the health issues that may come from that.

The obesity definition states that if a person's body weight is more than 20% greater than the recommended weight for his or her height, the person is considered obese. 

As a professional educator, I come in contact with kids everyday. I see many overweight children and I wonder why are children obese and how can we change it?  I think the key is keeping them active.  In my personal experience, my kids have always been involved in some kind of sports activity.  Both our girls started gymnastics at the age of two and they loved it. It kept them active helped them with their coordination which helped in other activities.  Once they were old enough to play organized sports, for us the age of four, we got them started.  First it was soccer then baseball and then after that they tried everything from basketball to dance. It became second nature to them to be physically active and not stay in the house and watch TV.  Don't get me wrong they still watched their cartoons on the weekends and played their Wii when we weren't running around doing something.  We just tried to do it in moderation and not make it an everyday activity.  Now that our girls are older, they have maintained their active lifestyles. We found that starting at an early age helped them to make activity a habit that they continued as they got older.

What do you do if your kids do not want to play in organized sports? Or maybe that isn't an option in your area.  It doesn't have to be an organized school team.  Here are some other activities that kids can do that will also keep them active.

Healthy Activities for Kids
cause of obesity
Prevent Obesity by keeping your kids active and healthy
  • Swimming
  • Golf
  • Bowling
  • Hiking
  • Running
  • Walking
  • Bike Riding
  • Go-Carts
  • Fishing
  • Dance
  • Horseback Riding
  • Surfing or Body Surfing
  • Bug Collecting
  • Kite Flying
  • Rock Climbing
... and the list goes on.  Family activities like hiking, fishing or horseback riding are great ways to keep the whole family active and to set an example that kids can follow. They can also be low-cost alternatives to add some healthy activity to our lives.  Here's to helping our kids live happy, healthy and active lives!

Marci Psalmonds
Contributing Writer


  1. Children are bought up on fast food and junk food. This has contributed significantly to the dramatic increase of childhood obesity. Take the effort to educate your child on the negative effects of eating too much fast food or junk food. Decrease the number of visits to fast food places and eat more freshly prepared homemade meals. Thanks.

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