Obesity is the largest health epidemic to plague the nation with more than two-thirds of adults having a weight status in the overweight or obesity category. Children are not spared. Obesity may occur in children for various reasons such as family lifestyle, indulging too often in junk food, eating inadequate amounts of fruits and vegetables, and lack of exercise.
When the pandemic implemented stay-at-home orders to protect the community, these issues were exacerbated, especially due to the mental health issues our children have suffered. Since time and money got tight, there was a negative impact on obtaining school foods, accessing health resources and maintaining the socioeconomic status of the family. This is why it’s important for parents to understand how these unhealthy habits can lead to obesity in children.
Why should childhood obesity be taken seriously?
A child with obesity risks the possibility of experiencing serious health consequences in childhood and in the future. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 14.4 million children and adolescents are affected by obesity from as early as two years of age. Complications that are common in children with obesity include asthma, joint pains, prediabetes/diabetes, high blood pressure, fatty liver disease, sleep-disordered breathing, and high cholesterol. According to Mayo Clinic, these health issues can result from consuming foods high in calories and minimal participation in physical activity.
What can lead to childhood obesity?
It can be difficult for parents to recognize the choices that can lead to childhood obesity. Typically, it is a combination of many factors. Therefore, it’s important to be informed as much as possible about a child’s health. Here are a few habits that can cause childhood obesity:
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Excessive sugar intake
- Relying on fast food
- Eating packaged foods that contain high fructose corn syrup
- Lack of fruits and vegetables
- Too much screen time
The influence of family in overall health
Family lifestyles can affect both the physical activity and dietary habits of a child. In an article published by Stanford News, genetics and environment play a role in a child’s weight. There is an even greater risk if parents have obesity. The CDC recommends five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables each day and an hour or more of exercise every day. As a parent, you can also set healthy lifestyle examples for your child by:
- Promoting foods high in fiber
- Taking a walk together or be active as a family
- Having your child exercise for at least an hour daily
- Model eating fruits and vegetables in front of your child
- Eating meals together to slow down eating
- Prepare foods at home together
To prevent serious health issues in your child, MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach works with pediatric cardiologists, dietitians and gastroenterologists to prevent and treat childhood obesity through its Healthy Kids Program. The program helps families maintain a healthy lifestyle through the specific needs of each patient depending on their age and condition. The team works together to create individual plans that assist in better health choices for not only the patient, but for the entire family.