SANChildhood Obesity

Childhood Obesity:

One third of children in the U. S. is overweight or obese, and this number is continuing to rise.

Preventing kids from becoming overweight means making choices in the way your family eats and exercises, and how you spend time together. Helping kids lead healthy lifestyles begins with parents who lead by example.

What Causes Obesity in Children?

The most common causes are genetic factors, lack of physical activity,  unhealthy eating patterns, or a combination of these factors. Only in rare cases there may be a medical condition such as a hormonal problem.

Today, the average child spends approximately four hours each day watching television. As computers and video games become increasingly popular, the number of hours of inactivity may increase.

What Health Problems Can Obesity Cause?


Obesity puts kids at risk for medical problems that can affect their health now and in the future. These include serious conditions like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol — conditions all once considered adult diseases.

They are also at risk for:

  • Bone and joint problems
  • Shortness of breath that makes any physical activity more difficult.
  • Breathing problems at night such as obstructive sleep apnea.
  • A tendency to mature earlier. Overweight girls may have irregular menstrual cycles and fertility problems in adulthood.
  • Liver and gallbladder disease
  • Obese kids also might have emotional issues such as low self-esteem and may be teased, bullied, or rejected by peers. Kids who are unhappy with their weight can be at risk for:
  • eating disorders.
  • depression
  • substance abuse




How Can We Prevent Overweight and Obesity?


The key to keeping kids of all ages at a healthy weight is taking a whole-family approach. Make healthy eating and exercise a family affair. Get your kids involved by letting them help you plan and prepare healthy meals. Take them along when you go grocery shopping. Teach them how to make good food choices.

Try to avoid these common traps:

  • Don’t reward kids for good behavior or try to stop bad behavior with sweets or treats.Find other ways to change behavior.
  • Don’t have a clean-plate policy.Even babies turn away from the bottle or breast to send signals that they’re full. If kids are satisfied, don’t force them to keep eating. Reinforce the idea that they should only eat when they’re hungry.
  • Don’t completely ban all sweets and favorite snacks.Kids may rebel and overeat forbidden foods outside the home or sneak them in on their own. Serve healthy foods most of the time and offer treats once in a while.


Birth to age 1: Breastfeed, it  helps prevent excessive weight gain.

  • Ages 1 to 5:Start good habits early. Help shape food preferences by offering a variety of healthy foods. Encourage kids’ natural tendency to be active.
  • Ages 6 to 12: Keep your kids active at home with everyday activities like going for a family walk.
  • Ages 13 to 18:Teach teens how to prepare healthy meals  at home. Encourage them to make healthy choices when outside the home and be active every day.
  • All ages:Cut down on TV, phone, computer, and video game time and discourage eating in front of a TV screen.
  • Serve a variety of healthy foods and eat family meals together as often as possible. Encourage kids to eat breakfast every day and limit sugar-sweetened beverages.

Talk to kids about the importance of eating well and being active. Be a role model by eating well, exercising regularly, and building healthy habits into your own daily life.

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