Can we stop childhood obesity?

October 3, 2018





It is no surprise that today’s children have become more sedentary as well as overweight. When further investigating children that are currently in school, there are plenty of reports that warn us of the “Obesity Epidemic”. Per site CDC.gov (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years.



Overweight is defined as having excess body weight for a height from fat, muscle, bone water, or a combination of these factors. Obesity is defined as having excess body fat. Overweight and obesity are the result of “caloric imbalance” too few calories expended for the number of calories consumed, and are affected by various genetic, behavioral, and sentimental factors.

Have today’s children become lazy?

With technology at their fingertips, it has become the norm for children to be lazy and go after the convenient snacks at school, at home, or at fast food places. These snacks can vary from donuts, to candy, to chips, and finally to the ever-convenient dollar menu at fast food places like McDonalds.

In 2012, more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese. The percentage of children aged 6–11 years in the United States who were obese increased from 7% in 1980 to nearly 18% in 2012. Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged 12–19 years who were obese increased from 5% to nearly 21% over the same period. (CDC.gov) It is very rare nowadays to see children without an electronic device.

Even if they are indeed spending time outside, or hanging out with friends, they are still glued to their cell phones, iPads, video games, or computers. You might see children playing outside, but if you observe how they interreact with each other, you will notice that their electronic device is playing a big part on their interaction.

How healthy are the school lunches?

Cheung A recent study named “The Healthy Experience” was completed. A report the healthy primary prevention trial developed an integrated multicomponent intervention program to moderate risk factors for type 2 diabetes in middle schools. The nutrition component aimed to improve the quality of foods and beverages served to students. Changes in the School Breakfast Program (SBP), National School Lunch Program (NSLP), and a la `carte venues are compared to the experience of control schools. The study was conducted in 10 school districts located at 7 sites across the country. Each site recruited 6 middle schools serving largely minority and lower income populations that were randomized to control or intervention. (Mobley, Connie) In the graph below you can see the comparison of study.


The Proportion (%) of Types of Beverages (A) and Snacks/Desserts (B) Served at a la Carte at Baseline and End of Study in Intervention and Control Schools. The Healthy Project Graph As you can see in the Graph above, the result is incredible. Children usually follow by example. To see that almost 80% of children have switched to drinking water at the end of the study, and about 50% went with healthier food choices means that there is still time to change the way children go about their day to day.

The same goes for electronic use, as well as time spent outside. There needs to be a change! If those changes can’t be made at home, we need to push for the school districts, superintendents, and local influencers to pass a law for “The Healthy Experience” to happen at every school in the nation.


HERE IS HOW YOU CAN HELP: 

You can start by adding more fruits and vegetables to your child's nutrition. It can be as simple as a snack or in a smoothie form. Fruit such as berries, bananas, and apples are so easy to cut up and put in little containers that you can grab and go or have "designated area" in the fridge for. Same goes for veggies such as mini carrots, celery, and cucumbers. 

Next, you should always limit your child's fast food intake. I'm not saying that they should never eat at McDonald's, but I'm here to tell you that there are better options out there such as: making your own chicken nuggets and fries at home (and if your child is all about the happy meals toys, McDonald's actually sells them separately).  

Play time! Take at least 30 minutes to 1 hour of your day to engage in activities with your child. Whether it be play-pretend, reading books, or going to the park. It needs to happen more often than electronic use. 

Lastly, you should teach your child the importance of a healthy diet and that they can to eat sweets but in moderation. 

xo,

Karina








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