A new study by North Carolina researchers suggests that severe obesity in children has increased over the past 14 years, especially in school-age girls and teenage boys. It is now estimated that one-third of children and adolescents are obese or overweight.
Obese youth are at risk for cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Obese adolescents are especially at risk for prediabetes, while children and adolescents who are obese are at a greater risk for bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and social and psychological problems.
Long-term, youth who are obese are more likely to remain obese into adulthood and are at a greater risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, osteoarthritis and cancer, including cancer of the breast, colon, esophagus, kidney, pancreas, gall bladder, thyroid, cervix, prostate, as well as myeloma and Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
If you have a child who is struggling with his weight, the first step is to have him evaluated by a physician to ensure there are no medical issues present, identify an ideal weight and create a plan to lose weight healthily. It’s important, whether your child is overweight or not, to model healthy behaviors, including choosing healthy foods, controlling portions and getting lots of exercise. Healthy habits must start at home. Here are five ways to help your child maintain a healthy weight:
- Choose lean meats, veggies, fruits, whole grains and low-fat dairy products when planning meals
- Be involved in your child’s snacking and lunches at school
- Do not use food as reward
- Limit snacking, especially high-caloric treats
- Cut out sugary drinks and sodas and increase water intake