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Child Obesity and Elementary-Schoolers

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), during the years of 1976-1980, only 6.5 percent of children ages 6-11 were considered obese. Today, that number has risen to nearly 20 percent! Clearly, the obesity epidemic that is plaguing America has reached some of our youngest citizens. The good news is that there are things we can do to help get childhood obesity under control!

Healthy Eating Goals for Kids

There are many reasons why parents need to help curb the obesity epidemic in today's youth. Childhood obesity is linked to a wide variety of health problems, including everything from cardiovascular disease to premature death. And, the CDC reports that children who are obese are much more likely to grow into obese adults. For these reasons, as well as other issues such as low self esteem, you need to help your child get a handle on the problem.

Tips for tackling childhood obesity in elementary school children:

  • Do not label your child or make him feel ashamed of his weight. Young children can't purchase or cook their own food, so your child can eat only what adults have given him.
  • Make taking on the obesity issue a positive one. Focus on being positive, always being supportive, and encourage a healthy lifestyle.
  • Avoid bringing junk food into the house. Make healthy eating and exercise a family affair. Kids get plenty of junk food just through classroom treats and at friends' houses. So, focus on health at home! Prepare healthy meals, stock up on healthy snacks (e.g., fresh fruits and vegetables, low fat crackers, etc.), and get the whole family to take a walk or go for a bike ride each day after dinner.
  • Encourage your child to bike ride, play sports, dance, etc. Children need at least one hour of physical activity per day. Find something your child enjoys doing and make sure he keeps doing it!
  • Use an exercise chart with reward incentives to encourage your child to get active and choose healthy snacks every day. A visual representation of the goal will help remove the power struggle.
  • Get your child involved in cooking family meals. While helping, he can learn about food and cooking, and you can discuss healthy eating as you work together. It won't sound like a lecture since you'll be together in the context of spending fun, quality time.

Beating childhood obesity is essential to long term health for most people. By overcoming the problem, your child will feel better, be healthier, and will most likely be more confident. By being patient, consistent, and supportive, you can help your child address this important issue!