Tips to prevent childhood obesity
Childhood obesity continues to be a growing problem in the United States, and North Carolina is no exception. According to a 2009 study by the North Carolina Child Health Assessment and Monitoring Program (CHAMP), 40 percent of 10- and 11-year-olds in the state are overweight or obese. For children of parents who never went to college, that number almost doubles.
Obesity is an issue that all parents, caretakers and school officials in Charlotte, N.C., should be aware of and take steps to combat. Childhood obesity, which affects boys slightly more than girls, can result in both emotional and physical issues, including depression brought on by teasing and low self-esteem; health risks like diabetes and high blood pressure; and an increased risk of eating disorders.
If you have concerns about your child's eating habits or weight, consider making changes to the family lifestyle. Incorporate into your schedules daily walks, touch football games or even video games that promote fitness and get children moving — anything that encourages non-sedentary activities. Eat meals together at the dining room table, if possible, and keep more fruit and crackers around the house for snacks rather than chips and sugary drinks.
Talk openly with your children about fats and calories, but be careful not to alienate your child. Ultimately, the entire family should make lifestyle changes to help instill healthy habits in children. Once your children are old enough to make their own food choices, they will be able to utilize the habits they formed as well as their knowledge of healthy eating. Encouraging healthy eating on a daily basis may help your son or daughter to opt for healthier options, like the fresh salad recently added to the lunch menus at Bluestone and Park View high schools in Mecklenburg County.
If your child has a BMI at the 85th percentile or higher and at-home dietary and exercise changes are not making a significant difference, consider discussing the issue with your Charlotte pediatrician. Working closely with a medical professional is the best solution for evaluating your child's condition and finding a solution.