The Dangers of Childhood ObesityIt's hard to open a newspaper or turn on the TV news these days without
seeing an item about how unhealthy our kids are. The percentage of
children who are seriously overweight, going on obese, has soared in
every western country in the last few years. And in every country where
income per head has risen significantly in that time, it's a major
Should we care about childhood obesity?The number one reason to think that we should care if our children
are overweight, and try to change the situation, is that an obese
child has a 70% greater risk of becoming an overweight adult,and the
risk is closer to 80% if one parent is obese. Other physical dangers
Type II diabetes
Joint problems -- overweight people are more likely to get defects in load-bearing limbs
Raised blood pressure and cholesterol
But the dangers are not just to physical health. I bet you can
remember a fat child in your class at school, and how much the poor kid
was teased. And even now, with more overweight children around, there
are still some serious psychological dangers with childhood obesity:
Lack of self-confidence, which sometimes shows as apparent over- confidence -- it's all too easy for an overweight child to become the self-selected class jester, hiding their hurt behind a mask of buffoonery.
Signs that a child is obese or at risk
Physical measurements are, of course, a good guide. From your child's
weight, height and age, you can measure the Body Mass Index(BMI), and
use published charts to check whether this is within the normal range.
But other factors come into play as well, especially in preventing
obesity in the first place:
Family history of obesity -- which often means that the whole family eats the wrong food and takes too little exercise, thus putting at risk children who are not yet obese
Unusual self-consciousness when undressed, perhaps in a swimming pool or public showers
Too much sitting about in front of the TV, computer or video games, with little or no physical activity
High sugar intake, especially in sweets and candy and rich cakes -- this is really hard to combat in a society in which almost all processed food contains added sugar
Eating very little fruit and few vegetables -- well, not many kids like their greens, but if they also push away the fruit bowl they are really at risk, not just of obesity but of all kinds of physical problems
Snacking all the time between meals, partly because this makes it less likely that the child will eat nourishing meals at the regular times, but also because almost all snacks are high in fat and carbohydrate (often in the form of sugar) and low in protein
How Can We Help Our Children To Be Healthy?
That's the subject of a book all by itself, and indeed I'd recommend
reading Kris Kerr's book
Childhood Obesity: how to prevent it, how to deal with it [http://www.capespear.info/childhoodobesity/]
to find out more both about the ways to see if your child is at risk and how to
deal with the problem. The areas you most need to worry about are:
Diet -- eating good, nutritious foods, avoiding eating unhealthy food, a sensible eating regime
Exercise, and how to get your family to take enough!
Self-belief and self-confidence -- how to deal with the low self-esteem of many children who are already overweight, especially while you try to get their weight down and their exercise levels up
In the book, you'll find a ton of ideas to help you solve these
problems, and where to get professional help if you need it. It's worth
it to have healthy, happy children!
But don't delay. Every day you wait to get started is another day
of danger for your kids. You owe it to them -- start NOW to combat
childhood obesity and give your kids the future they deserve.
Kathy Lang of Cape Spear Press has published nine books and hundreds of articles. She emphasises health problems that worsen as we age, and the concerns of families from grandparents to grandchildren. Having once been 40 pounds heavier, she has great sympathy for obese and overweight kids and adults. Childhood Obesity: how to prevent it, how to deal with it [http://www.capespear.info/childhoodobesity/] can help your child, and also see Kathy's web site AZ Health Answers [http://www.az-healthanswers.com]