Mind and Body: September is National Childhood Obesity Month

About 1 in 6 (17 percent) children in the U.S. is obese.

With September being National Childhood Obesity Month, we can take a stand to educate the public and help people learn more about this serious health condition.

As such, there are a few simple ways to support children in our community to achieve the best healthy habits possible.

You may ask, ‚“Why should I worry about it too much?‚“

Perhaps you have the attitude that your child will eventually grow out of his or her “baby fat” phase. While in some cases, this may be true, it is also important to make sure that we, as adults, point children in the right direction early on in life.

Children with obesity are at higher risk for having health conditions and diseases later on in life.

Issues which occur in adults, such as asthma, sleep apnea, bone and joint problems, and Type 2 diabetes, could develop at earlier stages in life. They also may have more risk factors for heart disease like high blood pressure and high cholesterol than normal-weight children of the same age.

Children who are obese can be the subjects of bullying, being teased more in school and during extracurricular functions. They are also more likely to be withdrawn, depressed and have lower self-esteem.

Children who are obese are more likely to be obese as adults. This can lead to lifelong physical and mental health problems.

Adult obesity is associated with a higher risk of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and many types of cancers.

Many factors can have an impact on childhood obesity:

— Too much time spent being inactive

— Lack of sleep

— Lack of places to go in the community to get physical activity

— Eating out of boredom, not eating on a schedule or having snacks available at any time. In other words, easy access to high-calorie foods and sugary beverages.

— Lack of access to affordable, healthier foods

There are ways parents can help prevent obesity and support healthy growth in children:

— Be aware of your child’s growth. Continue to make well-child visits with his or her pediatrician, not just when your child is sick. Ask for a copy of your child’s growth chart.

— Provide nutritious, lower-calorie foods such as fruits and vegetables in place of foods high in added sugars and solid fats. Steer clear of boxed convenience crackers, cakes and cookies.

— Make sure drinking water is always available as a no-calorie alternative to sugary beverages and limit juice intake. Remember there is no nutritional value to soft drinks.

— Help children get the recommended amount of physical activity each day. Remember to put time limits on household screens such as, televisions, computers, phones and iPads.

— Assign household chores to your child for developing good habits in the future.

— Be a role model. Eat healthy meals and snacks, be physically active and reduce household screen time. Show your child that adults have chores as well.

— Remember to not use the word “diet” with your child. It is important to learn ways of promoting healthy growth in children to prevent obesity.

Information derived from the Centers for Disease Control.

Article submitted by Amy Williams, MS, RD, LD.

Clark County Health Department provides programs for the entire family, including Cooper Clayton, WIC, HANDS, family planning, well child care/immunizations, and home health care. For more information on all of our service, please call 744-4482 or visit our website at www.clarkhealthdept.org.