“Is my child overweight?”, “Is it just baby fat and if so will my child grow out of it?” These are some of the questions that are worrying parents more and more these days. So, just how bad has the childhood obesity problem gotten?
Astonishingly, pediatric obesity is now of epidemic proportions in the United States. Pediatric overweight and obesity now affects more than 30% of children, making it the most common chronic disease of childhood.
It isn’t only a cosmetic issue but also a health concern, associated with significant issues in childhood and in adulthood. Therefore, parents of overweight young children should not just ignore this issue, but should actively seek out help to determine why their child is overweight and what they can do to help resolve the situation.
How do I know if my child is obese?
This should be determined by a medical professional or certified nutritionist, as there are varying (and often confusing) terms and criteria, especially for children.
What can cause childhood obesity?
There are many factors, including but not limited to:
- Changes in living environment – how we live, eat and act
- Frequency in eating meals out – these tend to have higher calorie counts
- Portion sizes – for example, a serving size of french fries is only 12 fries
- Soda – consumption of soda by children has increased throughout the last 20 years by 300%
- Box drinks, juice, fruit drinks and sports drinks – these beverages contain a significant amount of calories
- Increased sedentary lifestyle – school-aged children spend most of their day in school where their only activity comes during recess or physical education classes. This extends outside of school as well, with an increase of sedentary activities like watching tv, playing video games and using the computer
Staggering statistics, according to the Obesity Action Coalition:
- Only eight percent of elementary schools, and less than seven percent of middle schools and high schools, have daily physical education requirements in the U.S.
- Only 50 percent of children, 12 to 21 years of age, regularly participate in rigorous physical activity
- Twenty-five percent of children, 12 to 21 years of age, report no physical activity
- The average child spends two hours a day watching television
- Twenty-six percent of children watch at least four hours of television per day
What are some the health risks associated with childhood obesity?
There are multiple medical conditions associated with obesity in childhood. The most common include:
- Insulin resistance (the first step towards developing diabetes)
- Liver problems
- Hyperlipidemia (elevated cholesterol and/or triglyceride).
While these typically do not cause many problems in childhood, some children will develop diabetes or severe liver disease, including cirrhosis.
Other problems that can occur include:
- Joint problems
- Menstrual problems
- Gallbladder disease
- Sleep apnea
How do we treat childhood obesity?
It is important to work with a professional healthcare provider to develop an individualized plan of care that includes realistic goals and action steps.
Total Nutrition Technology has a specific program designed for this exact need.
TNT Youth will help create healthy eating habits and lifestyles. This is done through:
- Encouragement in activity in those not involved in a sport
- Learning nutrition principles in an easy-to-understand lesson plan that encourages teens to take charge of their nutrition and understand why good nutrition is important
- Understanding the benefits of a healthy lifestyle
- Learning how to make good choices when eating out in places such as the cafeteria, restaurants, and friends’ houses
- Being able to read food-labels and determine what is and is not a healthy choice
“Treatment of pediatric obesity is a family affair and needs to be directed at the family, not just the child. This is extremely important since the home environment and family support are important factors when trying to address pediatric obesity. If the child is the only one making changes in their life, they are less likely to be successful and are then made to feel different. Likewise, parents who do not make healthier changes in their lives are likely to undermine the child’s attempts”, says William Cochran, MD, a pediatric gastroenterologist & nutritionist and Director of the Pediatric Weight Management Program at Geisinger Clinic.
This is why it’s so important to make healthy lifestyle changes for the family as a whole. TNT has this covered with programs designed for every member of the family, such as TNT Moms (focusing on expectant and new moms), Weight Loss (engineered for adults wanting to reduce body fat while improving muscle tone) and TNT Silver (with the goal of not only helping to add “years to your life”, but more importantly, “life to your years”).
Clearly, childhood obesity is an issue that has become an immensely widespread problem that we can not ignore and will not resolve itself.
For more information and a Free Consultation, contact us today.