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Fighting Childhood Obesity

By on May 3, 2012

“Children whose parents are overweight are twice as likely to become obese,” said Dr. William Muiños, who spearheads Miami Children’s obesity program. Dr. Muiños has helped hundreds of children develop healthier lifestyles leading to lasting weight loss results.

With the average weight of the American population climbing every day, childhood obesity has become a dangerous and widespread health concern affecting families across the country. According to the U.S. Preventive Service Task Force (USPTF), 12–18 percent of U.S. children ages 2–19 are obese. What’s more, enough food is supplied in the U.S. to provide every person in the country with a daily caloric intake of 3,800, far beyond what is recommended—let alone healthy—for the average American.

So it’s no wonder that obesity rates in children are increasing in significant numbers.

While genetic factors do play some part in 70-80 percent of obesity cases, poor lifestyle choices are among the biggest contributing factors to why people of all ages become overweight.

Statistics show that not only are Americans eating more today than we were 20 years ago, we’re also replacing a large number of our home cooked meals with fast food, prepackaged meals and dining out. We’ve also been accustomed to eating very large portion sizes. From a very young age, children are being given excessive amounts of candy and unhealthy snacks, soda and sugary fruit drinks.

Meanwhile, in a world saturated with technology, our children are spending countless hours in front of the TV, computer and video game consoles every day, taking away from the time they could be spending playing outside. And with education budget cuts across the nation, schools are also providing kids with less opportunity for daily physical activities.

Setting Good Examples

“For parents, the best way to combat childhood obesity is by making small, permanent lifestyle changes both for yourself and your children,” suggests Dr. Muiños. “Set a good example by being active and encouraging your family to join you.” Here are some other small changes that can make a big difference:

  • Limit the amount of fast food, candy, soda and other unhealthy food your child consumes each week.
  • Offer your child healthy snacks like fruits, vegetables, nuts and yogurt.
  • Limit time for TV, computers and video games to a few hours per week.
  • Don’t criticize a child for being overweight; this can lead to poor self-esteem, depression

and eating disorders. Instead, offer your encouragement and support.

“The average child should be getting about 60 minutes of physical activity each day. So if you know your child isn’t getting that through a physical education class at school, encourage them to join a sports team or after-school activity. On weekends, incorporate physical activities into your routine. Instead of watching movies at home, go to the park, ride a bike or take a walk,” said Dr. Muiños.

For more information on childhood obesity, visit mch.com. Article submitted by Miami Children’s Hospital

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