To raise awareness about the growing epidemic that is childhood obesity, the month of September is National Childhood Obesity Month. According to the CDC, one in six children in America is obese and certain groups of children have higher rates of obesity than others. Let us take note of this epidemic, so that children don’t have to be at risk of the same diseases that are the primary causes of death in the U.S.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated that over 60% of diseases worldwide will be linked to obesity by the year 2020. Additionally, it isn’t uncommon to find that under-nutrition and obesity exist alongside each other. By under-nutrition or malnutrition, we mean that children aren’t eating enough nutritionally dense foods. Most children eat tons of empty calories, which have zero nutritional value, and those foods lead to weight gain.
Factors That Influence Childhood Obesity
- Lack of sleep
- Easy access to inexpensive fast food, high calorie foods, and sugar beverages
- Lack of access to affordable, healthier foods
- Too much time spent being inactive
- Lack of places that promote communal, physical activity
- School lunches
- Kids menus at restaurants
How To Address Childhood Obesity At Home
Even though your child may plead and throw tantrums to get food that is unhealthy, try your best to stand your ground and give them foods that are nutritious. We don’t mean that you need to hand them a head of broccoli and say, “Eat it,” but there are ways that you can make healthy food interesting to children. You can make sweet potato burgers, zucchini pasta, and or make nutritionally dense smoothies. Getting smoothies in your child’s diet is one of the best things you can do for them.
Things That Are Causing Childhood Obesity
Don’t let the food industry feed your kids. Letting your kids eat the hormone-filled, genetically modified foods that comprise many school lunches sets them up to be at a higher risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and stroke. Try meal-prepping lunches to ensure that your kids eat healthy.
No Healthy Fats
There are tons of unhealthy fats in the world, but the healthy fats are typically absent from the average American child’s diet. Eating healthy fats like coconut oil, olive oil, avocado, or leafy greens can provide complex nutrients that ensure a healthy metabolism and decreased risk of obesity.
America is a super-sized nation where more is always better. Many fast food restaurants like to entice you by saying that you will save money if you increase the size of your meal. They don’t tell you that you’ll increase your risk of obesity and diabetes too. A healthy food portion is no bigger than both of your fists combined, and it is beneficial to have at least half of it comprised of vegetables.
Lack of Exercise
According to a recent high school survey conducted by the CDC, only 11% of high school girls and 24% of high school boys say that they exercise for at least 60 minutes a day. Only 30% of high school students say that they actually go to gym class. It is important for your child’s future health to get them involved with physical activities outside of school. Don’t let them veg out and play video games, watch TV, or remain stagnant on the couch. Try going hiking, playing afterschool sports, or doing family activities.
How To Reverse Childhood Obesity
- Pack school lunches (look at our recipe section for inspiration)
- Limit screen time and encourage physical activity
- Be supportive and lead by example
- Start every day with a healthy breakfast (steel cut oats with berries & bananas, smoothies, or smoothie bowls, for example)
- Make it a priority to cook meals at home (and show your child what it means to use fresh ingredients)
- Make time for physical activity (playing sports, walking, dancing, bouncing on a trampoline, gymnastics, bike riding, playing at the park, or swimming)
There are natural solutions to childhood obesity and the problem can be reversed. Use the information in this article to help naturally reverse childhood obesity, making an emphasis that eating fresh food and regularly exercising can keep them healthy. Get involved in your child’s life so that they can have a healthier future.