Childhood obesity now affects 1 in 5 children, according to the CDC. Obesity in children may affect not only the child’s health, but predisposes them to many preventable adult health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and certain forms of cancer. Remarkably, once the body creates fat cells, they remain for life and can only shrink or expand in size, thereby predisposing to obesity.
Many schools have reduced or eliminated recess, playtime, and physical education in their curriculum in an effort to save money. I believe that this will ultimately cost our country more as we raise more unhealthy children into adulthood unless we as parents and a community intervene. We should make certain that our children get 60 minutes of moderate to intense exercise daily, as recommended by the CDC. Moderate exercise includes activities such as a brisk walk or riding a bicycle. More vigorous activities include sports such as basketball, soccer, or hiking a steep hill.
In addition to activity guidelines, we should make certain that our children are getting adequate nutrition at home and at school. Parents should eliminate fast food and processed foods and encourage fruits, vegetables, and non-fried meats. Another aspect of nutrition that is often overlooked is avoiding or minimizing sugary drinks, including many processed juices, and encouraging children to drink water. It is much easier for a child to maintain a healthy diet as an adult if it is established during childhood.
As we go deeper into the school year enter into fall and then winter, activity levels tend to decrease. We have to be intentional about helping our children find daily active opportunities while ensuring they are making wise nutritional choices. Children look up to us, their parents, teachers, and other respected adults, so it’s incumbent upon us to lead by example while encouraging active and healthy lifestyles, which will yield more capable and smarter children!