Childhood obesity is a serious medical condition that affects children and adolescents. It has become an epidemic in our country. When a child is well above the normal weight for their age and height, it is serious reason for concern. Even though they are children, they are still able to endanger their health with diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. There are also social effects on an overweight child.
. Children are often teased and bullied when they are overweight. This can cause a loss in self- esteem.
. Low self- esteem can bring on depression and overwhelming feelings of hopelessness.
. Higher levels of anxiety create poor social skills. This can cause children to socially withdraw or become disruptive in the classroom. This can cause long-term behavior and learning problems.
One of the most effective ways to fight childhood obesity is to improve the diet and exercise habits of the entire family.
One of the biggest reasons to get yourself healthy is so you can lead by example. Parents are the ones who buy the food, cook the meals, and decide where the meals will be eaten. You also have to be strong enough to say “NO” to your child when it comes to bringing unhealthy food into the house.
. Say no to those sweetened beverages! Sodas are nothing but sugar, and fruit juice is also high in calories – choose natural fruits to eat instead.
. Buy real food that is not processed. Spend your money in the fruit and vegetable aisle. Processed foods are high in sugar, fat, and sodium. Snacks should be healthy, not chips, crackers, or candy.
. Try to limit the visits to the drive through. Many fast food restaurants have healthier options so if you do find yourself in the drive-through lane, be sure to make the healthy selections – not the salty, greasy foods. For example, get your child in the habit of having the fruit slices instead of the fries, yogurt instead of the ice cream, and milk instead of the colas.
. Don’t have meals in front of the TV. Meals are time for the family to share about their day, and meals should be treated as an event not a chore.
You are the adult and this is one thing that you have control of. If you don’t bring unhealthy junk food into the house then neither you nor your family will end up mindlessly eating it.
Physical activity is a major component in a healthy lifestyle. Parents tend to reward their children with sugary treats. Try rewarding them with playtime in the park, or another event like bowling, – kids will be thrilled to spend time playing with you!
. If you want your child to be active you need to be active yourself. If the whole family is involved It becomes a fun activity, not a pain in the neck.
. Discover what activities your child really enjoys. When it is something they enjoy doing they will do it longer.
. Limit the time in front of the TV and enforce the rule.
. After a day of play, praise your child and reinforce how much fun it was.
. It doesn’t have to be structured exercise; it just has to be active to keep them moving.
Keep in mind that the focus is to get the entire family healthy. Focusing too much on one child can backfire from stress that can lead to overeating or developing an eating disorder. Lead by example; make sure you are eating healthy and exercising regularly. Focus on the positive! Show how much you love having fun with your family, and how much you love cooking healthy, colorful meals for them!
Childhood obesity is a grave concern. Many children are predicted to have a shorter lifespan then their parents. This is an epidemic that we can have a great impact on stopping. If you don’t have the endurance to get healthy just for yourself, then do it for your kids! This is your chance to be a true hero!
Pam Nelson, Certified Personal Trainer, Premier Fitness Camp
Pam has been an A.C.E certified (American Council of Exercise) personal trainer for the general population since 1995. She is also a group instructor , and certified in teaching the “Mature Population”, people over 50. Her clients have varied far and wide. She has had people with Parkinsons, amputees, athletes, and people struggling with sever weight issues. She has taught “Park City Boot Camp” for 5 years. She is a native of Utah, went to the University of Utah and has lived in Park City for 25 years. She enjoys an active lifestyle of hiking, biking, skiing, snowshoeing, anything that Utah has to offer. She has found a perfect fit working for Premier Fitness Camp and calls it her “Dream Job”, she is a trainer, group instructor, and a member of the coaching team.