Some shocking childhood obesity facts
Childhood is the time when a person's foundations are taking root and health habits for later in life are formed, which is why recent childhood obesity statistics are alarming.
Rates of childhood and adolescent obesity have tripled in the past 30 years, putting millions of people at a greater risk of having severe medical conditions later in life.
While there is hope through education, diet, and physical activity, children who are obese or extremely obese during early childhood are also likely to be obese during middle or late childhood and adulthood.
While childhood obesity can be caused by genetic factors, most often, it is due to diets high in sugar, fat, and sodium, and little to no daily exercise.
Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years. The percentage of children aged 6-11 in the US who were obese increased from 7 percent in 1980, to nearly 18 percent in 2010. In 2010, more than one-third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese.
Children have very different body compositions and structure, meaning that just because a child has extra weight, doesn't mean they are overweight or obese.
If you are worried about a child's weight, consult the Center for Disease Control's (CDC) growth chart, calculate the child's body mass index (BMI), or schedule a doctor's appointment.
It's no surprise that diet and lack of physical activity are the main culprits in the world's childhood obesity problem.
One of the many disturbing childhood obesity facts is that less than 10 percent of US schools offer physical education classes. The CDC has also found that 25 percent or more of children don't participate in any physical activity at home or at school.
Encourage and help a child find a sport they enjoy, or incorporate physical activity into family time by going on bike rides, hiking, swimming, and canoeing.
If you give a child unlimited access to snacks, deserts, and fast food, there is a high chance they'll over-eat. Children have little consciousness of how their eating habits will affect them later on, which is why they need adults and older peers to help them make healthy choices and limit their access to unhealthy foods.
Sweets, snacks, and fast foods are targeted at children, but to foster healthy growth, they need nutritious foods – just as much as any other person! Just because they are children, doesn't mean they are invulnerable to gaining weight and health issues.
Help children make healthier choices, and educate them about the negative nutritional effects of foods high in fat and sugar.
Don't restrict a child's food intake, as this can lead to body image issues and anorexia later in life, instead, help them read nutrition facts and steer them towards healthier snacks.
It can be easy to overlook or make an excuse for a child's obesity, but an obese child is at risk for very serious medical issues.
First, most overweight and obese children are at risk for becoming victims of bullying, low self-esteem, and depression. Children facing these societal and mental problems so early in life are at risk for psychological issues in adulthood, including anxiety and further depression.
Studies have shown that over 60 percent of obese children have at least one risk factor for heart disease, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, little or no physical activity, or high cholesterol. Over 30 percent of children have two or more heart disease risk factors. A few decades ago, this was virtually unheard of.
At one point in time, Diabetes Type 2 was called "Adult-Onset Diabetes". New childhood obesity facts have all but disproven this, with nearly 200,000 cases of childhood Diabetes Type 2 in the US alone.
Type 2 diabetes can lead to devastating health effects, such as heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, and poor circulation in the limbs, which can lead to wounds that won't heal, infection, and need for amputation.
Increasing the amount of daily exercise for children and limiting their access to sugary, high-fat foods can effectively eliminate almost all cases of childhood-onset Diabetes Type 2.
Children shouldn't be facing the medical issues adults decades older than them face. Childhood obesity is an issue we can all help prevent.