Aug. 15, 2012
-- A person’s height and weight are two factors used to calculate Body Mass Index (BMI). A BMI between 85%-95% is considered overweight while a BMI of 95% and above is considered obese. Right now almost 32% of children between the ages of six and seventeen years old are considered overweight or obese. And in most instances, their parents are overweight as well. This figure is very alarming because it has tripled over the last thirty years. While genetics and hormones can contribute to being overweight, poor diet and lack of exercise are the leading contributors of childhood obesity.
To address this problem, the entire family should eat appropriately sized portions of healthy foods. Child safety advocate, Michael Pouls explains that “being a positive role model for children means leading by example. It’s not logical to stock up on unhealthy snack foods for yourself and expect your child not to eat them.” This is because children eat the foods that their parents buy and eat themselves. Try exchanging a soda for a glass of low fat milk, and keep plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grain foods in the refrigerator and pantry.
In addition, make sure the entire family exercises for a total of 60 minutes everyday. Far too many children sit all day watching television, playing video games, and browsing the internet. “Start by simply taking the family dog for a walk and encourage your child to come along,” suggests Michael Pouls. “Or, suggest a bike ride to the local park or a pick up game of basketball – anything that you can do together to encourage and support each other.”
While changing your child’s eating habits and activity levels, keep your eyes open for emotional problems many overweight or obese children experience, including depression and feelings of inadequacy. Look for warning signs of depression such as social isolation, irritability, and poor grades. Beyond emotional problems, overweight children are also more prone to high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and sleep disorders. Should your child exhibit any signs of emotional distress or physical problems, contact your healthcare provider for advice.