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An Unhealthy Generation: The Problem of Childhood Obesity

Posted by Maureen Garner, MS, RD, LD on Jul 31, 2014 2:22:00 PM

 Childhood-Obesity-Infographic(Click image for full-size PDF of Infographic)

Approximately one-third of the children and teens in the United States are overweight or obese.  While this is a staggering statistic, it isn’t just kids in the US.  The World Health Organization recently announced if the current trend continues, there will be 70 million obese children in the world by 2025.


Health Effects

The health concerns related to childhood obesity are alarming. Children are now being diagnosed with high cholesterol, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and bone and joint problems.  Previously, these diseases were prevalent only in adults.  In addition to health issues, children experience social and psychological consequences of being overweight or obese. 

The impact of childhood obesity is exponential since obese children are more likely to become obese adults. Long-term health effects of obesity include cancer, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.  



Start Early

The earlier we encourage positive health changes in children, the more likely those healthy habits will last a lifetime.  Families, communities, schools, and childcare settings all play a part in developing healthy behaviors in children.  Here are a few ideas to get you started.


Be a Good Role Model

Kids learn by modeling the behaviors of others, so set a good example.  Let your children see you eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats.  Encourage physical activity - walk, run and play with your children.


Maureen-GarnerTry Something New

Offer your children a wide variety of nutritious foods.  Don’t be afraid to try something new or different, but be patient.  It may take several exposures to the new food before your child actually tries it.  Young children love to explore, so encourage them to talk about the food’s smell, texture, shape and color. 


Make It Fun

Children love to help.  Let them rinse the vegetables or set the table.  Cut foods into shapes with cookie cutters.  Have them create their own snack recipe.


More Ideas

In this short video, Claudia Mendoza, a preschool teacher from Los Angeles, shares classroom activities that are designed to teach young children healthy habits targeted at preventing childhood obesity. 



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Topics: Obesity, Child Nutrition

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