Childhood Obesity: Fight the Growing Problem
Obesity is a growing problem that affects a child’s physical, social, and emotional well-being. While weight isn’t the only measure of health, obesity is defined as having a weight-to-height ratio that is much greater than other kids of the same age and gender. At almost 26% and 22%, the obesity rate among Latino and African American children aged 2-19 is above the national average in the United States. We’ve got to work together, as families and communities, to help our children grow healthy.
A Healthy Lifestyle Starts Early
Our children’s weights are usually determined by a little bit of nature, a little bit of nurture: genetics play a big role but so do healthy eating and activity habits (or lack of them). As a parent, there’s a lot you can do to help your child maintain a healthy weight:
- Don’t offer food as a reward or comfort, or punish by restricting access to a preferred food.
- Serve balanced meals that are high in nutrients but lower in calories, sugar, salt, and fat.
- Avoid the temptation of the fast food drive-thru.
- Limit empty-calorie drinks like sugary sodas, sports drinks, and juices.
- Add colorful fruits and vegetables to every meal.
- Find fun ways to help your child get at least an hour of physical activity most days of the week.
- Better yet, take advantage of the So Cal sunshine and get the whole family outside for playtime.
- Limit screen time (television, social media, games).
In Some Cases, Obesity Can Be Caused by Health Conditions
Sometimes, weight gain or obesity can be caused by a disease or even a medication. Some disorders, such as hypothyroidism, affect the metabolism (how your body changes food and oxygen into energy), which can lead to extra weight. Medications can also be a factor: for example, the steroids that are commonly given with allergy shots can increase the appetite and cause weight gain. If you believe any of these things are affecting your child’s weight, talk to your pediatrician. If you don’t have one, we can help you find a good one!
Health Conditions Caused by Obesity
Obesity affects a child’s physical, social, and emotional health. It is a chronic disease that can cause or worsen other chronic diseases, such as:
- Heart disease
- Social isolation
- Type 2 diabetes
- Low self-esteem
- High blood pressure
- Bone and joint problems
Let’s Make a Difference Together!
Your child depends on you to help them live a healthy life. Empower your child to make good choices about food and physical activity: better yet, set a good example for them!
If your child is overweight, take it seriously but don’t get down about it. Be patient and persistent, while also understanding healthy weight loss takes time. Instead of placing your child on a restrictive diet, try to teach them healthy habits about eating that will stick with them through life.
The fight to end childhood obesity starts at home and in your community.
Need some support? We are here to help you with our Solutions and Treatment in Obesity Management and Prevention (STOMP) program. This year-long pediatric weight-control program helps you and your family live a healthy lifestyle by offering nutrition and fitness education, motivational messages, medical care, and personal consultations. It’s a supportive, fun environment, and depending on insurance and eligibility, you and your family may qualify for free.
Call one of our participating STOMP locations to find out more today:
AltaMed Medical and Dental Group - Anaheim, Lincoln (714) 678-2134
AltaMed Medical and Dental Group - Boyle Heights (323) 307-0402
AltaMed Medical and Dental Group - El Monte (626) 453-8466
AltaMed Medical and Dental Group - Huntington Beach (888) 499-9303
AltaMed Medical Group - Santa Ana, Broadway (714) 919-0280