The startling truth is that obesity in children is on the rise in our country. Physical education classes have been cut from many public school systems and foods being fed to our children are getting more and more unhealthy. It is no surprise that unless there is a change our children will have a hard time over coming the odds and living long healthy lives.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) over 12 million children in the US are obese, more of those being boys than girls. That number is on the rise, and currently the CDC see's no signs of it declining. These children have a battle ahead of them to overcome obesity if they are going to have a chance to not become a statistic of obesity in adults. And with obesity in adults making up over 78 million people in the US, it is clear that the problem is a real problem that needs a real solution.
Recent changes from the USDA have put in place a new system for teaching children what foods they should be eating, and new guidelines for nutritionists. Previously, the USDA exclusively used the food pyramid, this has been replaced by what is referred to as MyPlate. MyPlate is a easy to read and understand graphic that encourages everyone to make sure their diet is mostly vegetables and grains. It removes the guess work out of the pyramid, it removes doubt. It is a graphic that is simple enough for children to understand, as well is appealing for kids. The website set up for MyPlate includes resources for recipes, and nutritional information for preschoolers and those over the age of five. It is invaluable for parents who are fighting against obesity in their children.
The term obesity doesn't simply refer to a child who is a few pounds overweight, but instead a child whose BMI is above the 95th percentile. Childhood obesity increases the risk that the child could have early onset diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as breathing and joint problems. Research shows that that when childhood obesity bridges into adult obesity that it is typically worse in those adults. (source)
It is more important than ever to be aware of what your child is eating, and to be sure you are showing them good eating habits. When Kids Health took a survey of 959 kids the results were shocking. When asked what the kids had eaten the day before, 33% of the kids hadn't eaten any vegetables and 20% hadn't eaten any fruit. It is proven that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, especially for children, but of the children surveyed 19% don't typically eat breakfast.
There has to be change. How can that change come? Parents need to take an active role in what their children are eating, and what foods they have access to. Packing your child's lunch is a great way to make sure they have healthy options, but we should all be going a step further and looking into the food and drinks they are exposed to at school, at sports practice, at after school care and even at their friends houses. Be an active participant in your child's diet. Talk to them about healthy eating and about food choices and how they affect them.