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Childhood obesity rates are rising at alarming rates. Today, nearly 33% of children and teenagers are overweight. According to the American Heart Association, that’s nearly triple the rate of obesity compared with rates from 1963.

Kids are spending more and more time sitting in front of the TV, computer, or other electronic media device. Less time is spent exercising and playing outdoors. And busy parents seem to have even less time these days to prepare nutritious meals at home.

The result is more and more children who are developing medical problems such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular issues with high blood pressure and cholesterol. Bone and joint problems are on the rise, as are feelings of low self-esteem, poor body image, and even depression.

The American Heart Association has a great guide on “Understanding Childhood Obesity.”

understanding-childhood-obesity

How can I tell if my child is overweight?

One of the quickest and easiest ways to determine whether your child is overweight is to calculate his or her body mass index (BMI). You can search for a childhood BMI calculator online, or there’s a good one here at Kidshealth.org.

Tips for lowering your child’s weight

It’s no surprise that children who are overweight often have parents who are overweight. So work together to develop better eating habits, and toss in regular exercise you can do together as a family.

Here are a few tips that can help lower your child’s weight and improve overall health:

  • Eat out less frequently.
  • Ensure every meal includes a fruit and a vegetable.
  • Cut out soda and other sugary drinks.
  • Avoid frying meats; instead grill, bake, roast, or broil.
  • Exercise together as a family (go for a walk, play a game of baseball in the backyard, try a bike ride, etc.)
  • Turn off the TV and engage in other family activities.

How to prevent my child from becoming obese

The habits your children develop at an early age are likely to follow them throughout the rest of their lives. Healthychildren.org (from the American Academy of Pediatrics) has a wonderful video on AAP recommendations for preventing obesity:

 

RESOURCES

  1. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyKids/ChildhoodObesity/What-is-childhood-obesity_UCM_304347_Article.jsp#.WDuyN_krKUk
  2. http://www.heart.org/idc/groups/heart-public/@wcm/@fc/documents/downloadable/ucm_304175.pdf
  3. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/obesity/Pages/Obesity-Prevention-Video.aspx
  4. http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/bmi-charts.html
  5. http://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/obesity/facts.htm
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