September is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month
By April Speck, Coordinator,
Clinton County Healthy Hometown Coalition
Obesity occurs when a person’s weight is greater than what is considered healthy for their height. This ratio can be determined by an individual’s body mass index (BMI). Being overweight or obese can lead to a number of health concerns including diabetes, heart disease, stroke and arthritis.
Obesity has reached epidemic proportions in the United States. Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years. Nearly one third of all children are obese or overweight.
Unfortunately, our society makes it difficult to avoid gaining weight. Sugary drinks are omnipresent. Fresh foods, access to parks, and even in some neighborhoods, sidewalks, are not always available. Add that with a sedentary lifestyle and calorie-dense processed foods, and Americans have a recipe for weight gain. However, making one small change every month can make a difference.
Preventing childhood obesity is a family matter. Every family is different and should manage their health in a way that is appropriate to their bodies. Prevention is always the best medicine. Be sure to have your children’s BMI screened early before a problem develops. While this measure is not perfect, it is helpful. Managing a child’s weight early can help prevent long-term health problems, such as heart disease, that could begin to occur as early as his or her 20s or 30s for those who have been overweight during childhood.
It’s important to allow older children to have a say in their health. Children under the age of nine are dependent upon those around them. For those children, it’s important for parents and caregivers to be the agents of change. For children older than nine, parents have the opportunity to foster positive choices and allow the child to create his or her own healthy lifestyle.
A great way to simplify the basics of a healthy lifestyle for kids is the 5-2-1-0 Rule. Following this, kids will:
• Eat five servings of fruits and vegetables a day
• Limit screen time (television or computer) to no more than two hours a day
• Get one hour of exercise each day
• Drink zero sugary drinks
It takes time and patience to make family lifestyle changes and progress can seem slow, but in order to help an overweight child, the family must be on board and involved. When everyone is following the same guidelines, it sends a message that eating well and being active is important.
Clinton County facts:
• 74percent of the adult population is overweight.
• 21.1percent of children 2-4 years old are classified as obese
• 25.7percent of children 2-4 years old are at risk for being overweight
• 23.75percent of children 12-19 years old are overweight
• 25percent of children 12-19 years old are at risk of being overweight
• 31percent of the residents is classified as physically inactive
Portions of the above article contain informtation contributed by Dr. Robert Rettie with Saint Joseph Pediatrics, and KentuckyOne Health.
Healthy Hometown is working toward a “healthy” Clinton County.