Obesity is rapidly becoming a serious epidemic in the United States—and it is not only affecting our country’s adult population. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over one-third of America’s children are obese. Over the past three decades, the prevalence of childhood obesity has more than tripled. Caused by an imbalance in calorie ingestion and expenditure, this condition can significantly increase a child’s risk for developing a variety of other health complications, including:
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Type-II diabetes mellitus
- High LDL (“bad”) cholesterol
- Sleep apnea
- Cardiovascular disease
- Some cancers
Treating obesity in children can be difficult, but it is not impossible. Effective, sustained weight loss depends on the development of healthier habits that carry on into his or her adult life. In some cases, medical professionals such as a dietician or behavioral therapist can help to isolate the cause of weight gain and suggest solutions for treatment. Typically, weight loss involves encouraging the child to eat a healthy, balanced diet and participate in regular physical activity.
A child’s diet should be low in saturated fats, trans fats, and sugary juices or soda drinks. Fruits, vegetables, high-fiber foods, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products are all important aspects of a nutritious, balanced diet. Parents should set good examples for their children, avoid fast-food restaurants, and prepare healthy meals.
Just as important as a balanced diet is the child’s level of physical activity. With the introduction of computers and video games, children have progressively spent less and less time outside participating in more active pursuits. Children should be encouraged to avoid these sedentary activities and spend at least one hour per day exercising and being physically active.
- Health concerns
Lung diseases, joint problems, and other health conditions can contribute to a child’s weight gain. Treating these problems and resolving any symptoms will help to promote healthy weight loss.
Setting a good example for your child is one of the most important ways to help him or her develop the healthy habits that last a lifetime. To take that first step towards healthy weight loss, contact the Center for Surgical Weight Loss at Riverside Community Hospital by calling (951) 788-3463.