Childhood Obesity Has Become an Urgent Problem
Childhood obesity just might be the most urgent health problem in America today. Almost one third of American children are overweight or obese. Childhood obesity is concerning because the extra pounds often start kids on the path to health problems that were once confined to adults, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
The question remains why are so many children overweight? There seems to be no clear answer, each child's situation is different; however, genetics and eating habits are both likely causes. Children with overweight parents have a 48-percent chance of becoming overweight.
Another common reason that childhood obesity has become an urgent health problem is children eat too many chips, candy bars, and other high-calorie snacks. Fifty-six percent of 8-year-olds consume soft drinks daily and a third of teenage boys drink at least three cans of soda a day. On average, adolescents get 11% of their calories and 15 teaspoons of sugar from soft drinks. Increased soft drink consumption has been associated with decreased intake of nutrient-dense beverages such as milk.
Lack of physical activity is another reason why childhood obesity has become an urgent health problem. Our bodies are meant to move, not to sit for hours and hours in front of a TV or computer screen. When a child participates in some kind of physical activity that they enjoy after school, they will not feel as though they have missed a TV show. Martial arts, yoga for kids, dancing, gymnastics, roller skating, and rock climbing are all great for building healthy bodies.
Besides building healthy bodies, overweight children suffer from low self-esteem. According to the research findings of a Duke University study, obesity in children is associated with certain psychological disorders. Children endure teasing and stress if they are overweight and often do not have the tools to cope with how it makes them feel.
Along with mental-health issues, diabetes, high blood pressure, and cholesterol, obese children can suffer from orthopedic complications, including abnormal bone growth, degenerative diseases, and pain. Health issues related to obesity are also linked with decreased life expectancy.
Childhood obesity does not have to become an urgent health problem. By using a common sense approach, we can help our children maintain healthy weight and health. There are many places such as schools, parks and recreation, YMCAs, and other community arenas that can give us direction and advice on how to reduce the risk of childhood obesity.