Childhood Obesity Creates Future Health Problems
Childhood obesity rates continue to climb, especially in the United States. Parents who are overweight tend to raise children that are also overweight. Childhood obesity increases a child's risk of developing serious health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, asthma, sleep apnea and cancer. Switching your child to a whole-food, nutrient-rich, plant-based diet not only provides adequate nutrition for your child, it promotes better school performance, and fewer sick days.
A Fast Growing Crisis
Childhood obesity has tripled in the past 30 years. Our previous First Lady Michelle Obama at the Let's Move launch on February 9, 2010 stated "The physical and emotional health of an entire generation and the economic health and security of our nation is at stake." These words just become truer with each passing year.
Social discrimination can cause psychological stress as obese children become socially stigmatized. This often causes low self-esteem leading to poorer academic and social skills. These issues may continue into adulthood.
How Did This Happen To Us?
Children no longer walk to school. Recess at school is becoming a thing of the past. Gym classes are on the decline. After school play has been replaced by television and video games. And most importantly, the world of food has been turned upside down. Standard American Diet (SAD) foods are higher is calories with more fats and oils. They are also higher in sugar and other sweeteners. Convenience food is not so convenient.
Are We Fooling Ourselves?
Our perceptions of ideal weights has radically changed. A study in 2015 found that 94.4% of parents believed that their overweight children are "just right." This is happening for children between 2 to 5 years of age which is when the poor eating habits become entrenched.
What's a Parent to Do?
It is important for parents to maintain a normal body weight since children are twice as likely to be obese if they have one obese parent and 2.4 times more likely to be obese if both parents are obese. Risk factors increase with increasing childhood obesity.
I always encourage parents to start with food. Parents can encourage their children to eat healthier by providing nutritious foods and modeling healthy eating habits at home. Participating in meal planning, grocery shopping, preparing a meal, or growing a garden together are a few ways in which parents can encourage their children to live a healthful lifestyle. Being physically active with your children is another way to bond families together and instill ideals to help children grow up appreciating the value of good health.
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