September: Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

September 4, 2013 by Molly Huff

With September being Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, Affinity would like to take the opportunity to give you some facts about the subject as well as some solutions and preventative measures.

One in 3 children in the United States is overweight or obese. Childhood obesity puts kids at risk for health problems that were once only seen in adulthood, like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. Fortunately, childhood obesity can be prevented and, if already an issue for your child, treated and turned around.

A few ideas that you can implement at home:

  • Make small changes like keeping fresh fruit within your children's reach for easy snacking or going on a family walk after dinner.
  • Limit screen time in your household - the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents limit the amount of time kids and teens spend playing video games, watching tv and using the internet to two or less hours per day.
  • Beware of sugary beverages - kids ages 7 and older shouldn't drink more than 12 ounces of 100 percent fruit juice a day - keep water and milk on hand and educate your kids about making healthy choices when they aren't with you. Soda is another no-no - each serving of soda increases a kid's risk of becoming obese by about 60%
  • Get good sleep! Too little sleep during the week and weekends increases the risk of weight gain in middle-school age boys while less sleep on weekends negatively affects the weight of middle-school age girls.
  • Eat breakfast. Skipping breakfast can cause your kids and teens to be tired, irritable and hungry during the day - making them more likely to reach for high-calorie foods that aren't good for them and won't sustain them. Yogurt, trail mix or peanut butter on whole grain bread are good grab-and-go breakfasts for families on the go.
  • Family dinners are important. When families eat together, they tend to each healthier meals (less fried foods and more vegetables).
  • Educate your kids about healthy eating. Take your kids with you to the grocery store and use the opportunity to teach them about the foods a body needs and the ones we don't. If you need a refresher yourself, visit mypyramid.gov for a great example of the food pyramid.
  • Focus on health, not weight. Make your education and implementations of these tips about being healthy - not about losing weight.

If you feel your child is obese and would like some guidance or an evaluation from one of our Affinity Pediatrics pediatricians, click here to make an appointment. Stay healthy and establish good exercise and eating habits in your house - it can go a long way in making your children into happy, healthy adults.