Category Archives: Children’s Obesity

Health Concern for American Kids today

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As we continue to lead the fight against the childhood obesity epidemic, let’s take a moment to survey recent global developments in this field. Unfortunately, childhood obesity remains the number one health concern for American parents today. There are good reasons to be worried since, according to the American Heart Association, approximately one in three American children is considered overweight or obese. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in turn, offers an equally discouraging statistic: over the last 30 years, obesity has more than doubled among children and quadrupled among adolescents in the United States.

Aside from causing negative body image and low self-esteem in children, obesity is associated with a host of serious health problems that include high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and elevated blood cholesterol levels. These problems are likely to persist into adulthood, carrying the likelihood of obesity-related diseases and shorter life expectancy. A recent article published in Medical Daily [link 1] suggests that households with obese kids are more likely to pay 60% more for health care since these kids are more likely to be admitted to hospitals than healthy children.

These alarming facts give us reasons for concern, but they also encourage us to make a positive difference in the lives of obese children. In particular, Children’s Obesity Fund seeks to combat the obesity epidemic through education and outreach programs designed to promote healthy lifestyle habits. We believe that prevention of obesity is most effective when it relies upon gradual and permanent changes in children’s physical activity and healthy eating habits conducive to maintaining an appropriate body weight.

Establishing support networks is essential to promoting positive lifestyle changes in obese children. CDC points out that children’s dietary and exercise habits are affected by numerous social institutions that include the media, schools, government agencies, healthcare providers, and faith-based institutions. While we seek to promote our message and foster public awareness of the obesity epidemic across these levels of society, we also emphasize that particularly supportive roles should be assumed by family members. Parents and caregivers ought to understand the importance of talking to children about their weight without belittling them or setting them apart from other kids. It often helps to plan family activities that incorporate physical exercise. Indeed, summertime may be the most opportune time of the year to take your children outdoors and engage them in games or athletic activities that are both fun and conducive to positive lifestyle changes. While a game of Frisbee is not likely to solve a global childhood obesity epidemic, it may be one of the first steps towards encouraging active lifestyle habits in your child.

Family Health Challenge Takes on Childhood Obesity

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The hardest part of fighting back against childhood obesity is engaging children and parents, and getting them to enact changes that promote healthier living. During this year’s National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, The American Heart Association is hoping to bridge that gap with a four-week program.

The goal of The Life is Why Family Health Challenge is to help families get healthy by making simple, fun, and affordable choices that will lead them down the heart-healthy road as a family. To accomplish this, the AHA has created 4 different week-long challenges that families can participate in. Here is a breakdown of the challenge:

Week 1 – The first week is dedicated to eating more fruits and vegetables. This is a critical first step in promoting a healthier lifestyle, and it is often the easiest to incorporate into a child’s diet.

Week 2 – Avoid sugary beverage. It’s well-known that beverages like soda and energy drinks are loaded with sugar, so this week is about cutting them out of your diet. Instead, try healthier alternatives like flavoring water with fresh fruit.

Week 3 – Cut back on salt. According to the AHA, most people consume more than double the recommended amount of salt. Try experimenting with different herbs and seasonings, and keep the salt shaker in the spice rack.

Week 4 – Get active. By the third week of incorporating these changes, you and your family will hopefully find yourselves with some extra energy. The AHA suggests planning activities that will get your family active, like bike rides, hikes, or other engaging activities

While the Family Health Challenge may not be the most intensive program for reducing childhood obesity rates, incorporating these small changes is the perfect way for families of all kinds to make crucial health changes. The program is simple enough to benefit children of all ages, and does not require difficult or major changes to a child’s daily routine.

To learn more about the Life is Why Family Health Challenge, visit the American Heart Association’s website.