Preventing Childhood Obesity - PIH Health

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Published on November 16, 2015

Preventing Childhood Obesity

Preventing Childhood Obesity

Preventing Childhood ObesityMost of the rules that apply to weight management for adults also apply to children. So it’s no surprise that maintaining a healthy weight requires a balance between calorie intake and physical activity.

But remember, children and teens should never be placed on a weight loss regimen without consulting a healthcare provider. While the goal is to reduce weight above what is appropriate for their height, the nutritional needs of a child are different than those of an adult for proper growth and development.

Problems Beyond the Physical

The most common physical concerns with childhood obesity include:

  • Heart disease
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Asthma
  • Sleep Apnea

But, equally damaging is the social stigma of being overweight in an image-conscious society. It can lead to additional issues like low self-esteem, academic difficulties and socialization problems that may persist into adulthood.

A Balancing Act

Here are a few easy steps for establishing a healthier, balanced lifestyle:

  • Make favorite dishes healthier – all it takes is a few ingredient changes
  • Limit or eliminate high-fat, high-sugar snacks
  • Increase consumption of fruits and veggies
  • Stay active – encourage at least 60 minutes a day of moderate to intense physical activity. And, it’s double the fun when you join in
  • Reduce sedentary time – no more than 2 hours a day of TV, video games and Internet

Lead by Example

Kids are more likely to learn healthy habits when you practice what you preach. “Including yourself and other family members in the plan is the best way to reach and maintain healthy eating goals,” says Sylvia Gonzalez MD. Remember, children imitate adults. “Encourage your kids to join you in your physical activity, or start a new one together. You can also prepare meals together; challenge each other to see who can come up with the healthiest, tastiest sandwich or taco. After all, kids love beating their parents in friendly competitions,” adds Dr. Gonzalez.

The good news is that if you start children on a healthy path early, they’re more likely to stick to it as they grow, thus reducing the risk of obesity as adults.

The information in Healthy Living Online is for educational purposes only.  It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.  The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation, or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.

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