Childhood obesity has become a national epidemic, with nearly one in three children in America considered overweight or obese.
Kaiser Permanente wants parents to know that healthy eating and frequent exercise are two of the most important factors that prevent childhood obesity.
Childhood obesity causes numerous health concerns including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and other chronic obesity-related health problems.
“Studies show that obesity-related health issues can also lead to bigger problems such as cancer and asthma,” said Dr. Hugh Tsai, a pediatrician with Kaiser Permanente Southern California. “Overweight children are at an increased risk of emotional and social problems. Being overweight can affect their joints, sleeping and breathing. It’s important for parents to make sure their kids eat healthy balanced meals and avoid being sedentary. Parents should also practice what they preach and become good role models, as children are very impressionable starting at a young age.”
To help children maintain a healthy weight, Dr. Tsai recommends that parents encourage their children to:
• Eat five (or more) servings of fruits and vegetables.
• Limit screen time to two hours or less per day.
• Have at least one hour of physical activity each day.
• Drink no sugary drinks, soda and avoid sugar-laden “juice.”
• Drink at least 8 cups of water a day.
Challenges that Teenagers Face
When it comes to striving to keep a healthy weight, teenagers face unique challenges. As they enter the teenage years, many feel pressure related to their weight and body image.
“One way to help teens overcome weight-related challenges is by keeping healthy food in the home and teaching them about the importance of eating right,” Dr. Tsai said. “That will likely encourage teens to eat a more well-balanced meal, including when they’re away from home. I also urge parents to involve their teens when it comes to meal planning. Also, get them involved in the planning of family activities to get everyone moving!”