Why childhood obesity matters

We hear the term ‘Childhood Obesity’ used frequently these days – but what does it mean? And what’s the big deal? I mean, they are kids, right? They have a high metabolism and can burn it off quickly, right? And heck, they are young! This isn’t going to last their whole life…..

When you look at the fact that at least 2.6 million people per-year die as a result of being overweight or obese, and that childhood obesity in the Caribbean alone has doubled in 10 years, it is very alarming.

The annual National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that about one-third of US children are overweight or at risk of becoming overweight. In total, about 25 million children and adolescents in the US are overweight or nearly overweight.

Childhood obesity is associated with a higher chance of premature death and disability in adulthood.

The most significant health consequences of children being overweight or obese that often do not become apparent until adulthood, include:

  • cardiovascular diseases (mainly heart disease and stroke);
  • diabetes;
  • musculoskeletal disorders, especially osteoarthritis;
  • certain types of cancer (endometrial, breast and colon);

The fundamental cause of children being overweight or obese is an energy imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended. In other words, eating too much of the bad stuff and not getting out and getting active enough.

Here are some easy tips to help your child and family be more active and make better eating decisions:

Have veggies at dinner: this may seem like a chore but to save money and time, look in your frozen food aisle for quick and easy solutions. Contrary to popular belief, frozen vegetables are not bad; they are just another option to fresh vegetables.

Carbs are not your enemy: you can have pasta, potatoes and rice, just in moderation. Use your fist as a guideline to a portion size, and try to have a portion of vegetables, protein and carbs for every meal. Sweet potatoes, whole grain pasta and brown rice have added health benefits.

Get outside: yes, it is hot, but you can wait until the cooler early evening hours to get outside. It is as easy as going for a walk, throwing a ball around or riding a bike for 20 minutes a day.

Have suggestions, question or concerns? Email Maureen Cubbon at [email protected]