It’s fall again and for some of our clients that means getting kids ready to go back to school. It also happens to be that time of year when our country takes on the annual pilgrimage to discuss childhood obesity. This is an issue that is important to our HDX family as we feel firmly that good health and fitness values begin at an early age as well as family and friends play an important role in being positive role models to the younger members of our community.
To understand the severity of the problem, we have to view the data:
- Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years
- The percentage of children aged 6–11 years in the United States who were obese increased from 7% in 1980 to nearly 18% in 2012. Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged 12–19 years who were obese increased from 5% to nearly 21% over the same period.
- In 2012, more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese.
And now, the effects of childhood obesity:
- Children and adolescents who are obese are likely to be obese as adults and are therefore more at risk for adult health problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer, and osteoarthritis. One study showed that children who became obese as early as age 2 were more likely to be obese as adults
- Overweight and obesity are associated with increased risk for many types of cancer, including cancer of the breast, colon, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, pancreas, gall bladder, thyroid, ovary, cervix, and prostate, as well as multiple myeloma and Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
The points above are alarming, and we at HDX feel we have an obligation to address this issue and work with you to develop a prevention strategy.
Curing childhood obesity is not rocket science, its using common sense to take small steps that lead to a path to good health over the long-term. As a Type 2 Diabetic and a father of a 3 year old, my wife and I take great care in addressing what we eat along with staying active outdoors to instill good values in our son. Our simple program involves nutrition and daily activities that are easy for all parents to follow:
What to feed your kids is important; after all, they will want to eat what you eat so make sure that you lead by example. We have found that including our son in the cooking process and allowing him to be in the kitchen asking questions about what we’re cooking makes him feel part of the process. He’s engaged and invested and is happy to eat whatever we make together. We also let him choose what he wants to eat by giving him options (do you want chicken with veggies or turkey and cheese?) He loves being in charge of what he eats and we find that he eats more variety and is also more open to trying new foods when we make him part of meal planning. I also recommend these simple tips:
- Balanced meals and healthy snacks throughout the day
- Home cooked meals at least twice a day
- Fruit and vegetables are considered dessert in our house (and yes, our son loves his veggies)
- Portion control: smaller plates help to keep kids from overeating
Keeping the blood flowing is just as important to what we put in our bodies and especially for young growing bodies. We have several activities that we plan everyday, whether its going to the park, playing the backyard, going to the beach, etc. There is always something to do besides sitting around watching TV. One of the simplest things I do to make sure that our son gets extra activity is we always park the farthest in a parking lot, whether it’s dropping him off at school, running to the grocery store, heading to the beach or hitting Disneyland. We try and get as many steps in as we can and they also allow for a little extra talk time with our little dude.
At HDX we believe that it’s never too early to lay a good foundation for young people. Whether you’re a parent, sibling, relative or friend, we all have an obligation to share and pass along good health and fitness values. I see it making a difference in our little boy and we hope he’ll lead a healthy and fit life.
If any of you parents have thoughts or other tips to add to this conversation, please share your thoughts with us on Facebook.