Between the years 2003 to 2010, the prevalence of childhood obesity decreased from 15.21 percent to 14.94 percent in the United States.1 While the rates of childhood obesity are slowly declining, there is still much work to be done to continue preventing and treating childhood obesity.
Approximately 17 percent (12.5 million) of American children and adolescents ages 2 to 19-years-old are clinically obese.1 In the state of South Carolina, about 12.8 percent of children ages 2 to 5-years-old are obese, while 16.7 percent of adolescents are obese.2 There is something that can be done to help efforts to reduce obesity in children, and much of it starts with the parent.
Ignoring or contributing to childhood obesity can increase your child’s risk for developing serious and life-threatening health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and asthma. Practice the following do’s and don’ts to help your kids stay healthy and avoid the health risks associated with being overweight or obese.
Don’t rely on organized sports.
Think it’s okay for your child to sit in front of the TV all afternoon and weekend because they’re a part of the school soccer team? While being involved in organized sports is a great way to stay active, it’s not always enough. Encourage your child to get up and play in addition to organized sports.
Do turn off the TV (unless it’s the Wii).
Among South Carolina adolescents, only 17.1 percent were physically active for at least 60 minutes a day. Part of this problem may be the television. Instead of sitting around watching cartoons all afternoon and weekend long, encourage your kids to get up and do something, even if it’s just playing Wii.
Don’t reward your kids with food.
Rewarding your kids with food is enticing them to additional calories that they may not need. Avoid using food as incentive for doing homework or getting a chore done. Instead, reward with non-food items, like extra time playing with friends or a day off from making their bed.
Do know when to praise.
By praising your child when they do something healthy, like eating all of their vegetables, you’re reinforcing and acknowledging good choices. This can hopefully contribute to those good choices turning into good habits.
Don’t provide tempting foods.
It’s harder for your child to resist that chocolate cake if it’s sitting in the kitchen looking delicious. Don’t promote your child’s consumption of high-calorie, low-nutrition foods by tempting them with those types of foods every day. If those foods aren’t there, they can’t be eaten by your kids.
Do encourage healthy eating habits.
If you buy the groceries for the family, make sure you’re choosing plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole-grain products, low-fat or non-fat dairy products and lean meats. At meals, serve reasonably-sized portions and limit sugar-sweetened beverages, like soda.
As a parent, you can help your child be the healthiest they can be through the choices you make. Do your part in child obesity prevention to keep your kids healthy so they’re not at greater risk for serious health problems.
Read more information like this in these recent MUSC blog posts:
1 Overweight and Obesity Data and Statistics. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/childhood.html
2 Overweight and Obesity: South Carolina. Centers for Disease Control, 2012. PDF. http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/stateprograms/fundedstates/pdf/south-carolina-state-profile.pdf