According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), childhood obesity has more than tripled since the 1970s.
Today, one in five children, ages 6-19, are obese. There are many factors contributing to childhood obesity: genetics, metabolism, eating and physical activity behaviors, environmental factors and social and individual psychology.
We do know that if calorie intake is higher than calorie output it leads to energy imbalance and energy imbalance is a key factor behind high rates of obesity.
Children with obesity are at a higher risk for having chronic health conditions, type 2 diabetes mellitus, joint problems, asthma and sleep apnea. Also, children with obesity are at a higher risk of becoming obese as an adult, which is linked to additional chronic diseases.
In addition, a meta-analysis conducted indicates that children with obesity are bullied and teased more than their normal weight peers; which then leads these bullied children to social isolation, depression and low self esteem.
To raise awareness about the role everyone plays in ensuring a healthy future for children, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics will celebrate the fourth annual Kids Eat Right Month in August.
This is the perfect time to focus on nutrition and physical activity as families enjoy the last days of summer and prepare for their children to go back to school.
The community at large can take steps to focus on our children’s nutrition and physical activity, which will ultimately ensure our children’s health long-term and present higher success rates at school.
Tips towards taking steps towards your child’s health and nutrition:
Make time for breakfast in the morning –Research shows that children who don’t eat breakfast have a harder time concentrating and are less productive and successful at school.
Eat foods low in added sugar, whole grains, protein and fiber for breakfast.
Pack a healthy lunch – Include lean protein, fruit & veggies, whole grains and dairy in your child’s lunch.
An example is turkey with low fat cheese on whole grain bread, a handful of strawberries and baby carrots.
Make time for dinner – Time to enjoy a healthy meal and time together as a family.
Research indicates that families who eat dinner together have a stronger bond, children have higher self-confidence and perform better at school.
Prep your weekly meals ahead of time if your family has a busy week with activities.
Get Moving - Regular physical activity is vital in order to strengthen muscle and bones, promote a healthy body weight, support learning, develop social skills and build self-esteem.
Kids are encouraged to be active for 60 minutes per day. This is also a great way to spend quality time together as a family.
Staci Lupberger, MS, RD, is assistant director at CU’s Anschutz Health & Wellness Center and program director of the Center’s My New Weigh Program. She holds a Master’s degree in Human Nutrition & Food Science from Colorado State University, a BS in Dietetics from the University of Northern Colorado and a BA in Media Arts from the University of Arizona. Prior to joining the center in 2015, Staci's work experience included strategic development, corporate compliance, and account management with Pfizer Inc., Morgan Stanley, and the National Football League. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, running with her dogs, practicing yoga, playing the piano and spending time with family & friends.