Childhood obesity has become a growing problem in recent generations. With today's technology-driven landscape, many kids don't move as much as they should, which means they're not burning calories. As a result, their bodies accumulate more fat than generations before them did. According to the CDC, obesity affects about 13.7 million children and adolescents between the ages of two and 19, which is about 18.5% of that population. Children between the ages of 12 and 19 have the highest obesity rates, measuring at 20.6% of the population.
By the Numbers
According to information provided by The New York Times, Mississippi and Kentucky are each over 40% of childhood obesity rates in their respective states, while many other southern states linger between 30 and 35%. On the plus side, the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) reports that the national obesity rate for some groups, particularly young children between the ages of two and four, declined significantly in recent years—down from 15.9% in 2010 to 13.9% in 2016. The obesity rates in children ages five to 19 haven't changed much, however, which means there's still a lot of work to be done to conquer this issue.
The AAFP reports that some demographical differences are notable across various groups of kids. For example, obesity rates tend to be higher in black (22.2%) and Hispanic (19%) kids than white (11.8%) and Asian (7.3%) youth.
Long-Term Effects of Childhood Obesity
Childhood obesity can have many long-term effects, including poor mental and physical health, as well as lower academic achievement. Over time, children who are obese may be exposed to severe health conditions, including type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, and certain cancers. It's worth noting that obesity doesn't just go away, either; there are often habits and lifestyle choices ingrained in children from a young age that can follow them into adulthood. Even if an adult chooses to change his or her lifestyle patterns, it can be extremely difficult to make those changes and the weight might not fall off quickly. Plus, some detrimental health effects might have settled in from a young age if a person is obese from childhood.
How to Fight Childhood Obesity
The best way to fight childhood obesity is to be proactive and not let it happen in the first place. However, even if your child is battling this situation now, it's best to put plans into place as early as possible, so as to stave off the negative long-term effects that could be lurking around the corner.
- Eat as a family. Showcase positive eating habits by eating as a family and allowing your kids to see how much you value fruits, vegetables, and well-rounded meals.
- Don't insist that your child clean his or her plate. This can encourage overeating and create a mindset in which your child feels they must always eat past the point of being full.
- Encourage outside playtime. Kids need to run off their energy and play outside. Not only does this help burn fat, but it's also great for their overall socialization.
At May Recreation, we believe in getting kids moving again. If you're interested in building a playground where kids can run off their energy and get back into game of playing outside, we'd love to chat with you! Contact us to learn more!