Obesity Childhood

Childhood obesity is rapidly becoming a global health problem. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2005), the number of obese or overweight children in America has tripled since the 1960s, escalating from 5 to 15 percent.

An important component of childhood obesity programs is physical activity. With the recent boom in electronic entertainment, children are more often found watching TV or surfing the Internet, rather than getting exercise. Tight school budgets have resulted in cuts to the physical education curriculum and sporting programs, further affecting fitness opportunities and obesity statistics.

Fortunately, there are childhood obesity prevention methods and even ways to reverse obesity in children. Even small changes to diet and exercise routines positively affect children’s weight.

Children’s Fitness and Obesity Statistics

According to statistics published in the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatricians (2010), even small improvements in children’s fitness can affect childhood obesity statistics profoundly. Researchers investigated the “Families on the Move” childhood obesity program’s effectiveness. Participants included 216 families with at least one overweight or obese child between the ages of 7 and 14.

The families were split into two groups: an obesity intervention group and a control group. The 111 families in the intervention group were told to make two lifestyle changes. Overweight children were to walk an extra 2,000 steps a day (approximately one mile) and to eliminate 100 calories from their diet using the sugar substitute Splenda (approximately the equivalent of one candy bar or an eight ounce can of soda).

At the end of the six-month study, researchers observed that two-thirds of children in the intervention group had either maintained or lost weight. Although no child lost a large amount of weight, the study was influential in showing that even simple childhood obesity prevention measures can make a difference.

Environment and Childhood Obesity Facts

Changes in home environment also have an effect on childhood obesity prevention, according to a Flinders University study in South Australia. The Achieving a Healthy Home Environment Survey was a two-year study of 280 suburban families. This survey examined over 75 variables that affect children’s fitness and childhood obesity statistics.

The survey showed that children with larger backyards were more likely to exercise than those with small yards. However, yard size is not the only consideration: Children’s fitness increased depending on the amount of play equipment and play areas in the yard.

The study also showed that the types of food available to children affect childhood obesity statistics, as well as features of their parents’ lifestyles. Here are some other interesting childhood obesity facts that resulted from the Flinders University study:

  • 20 percent of children don’t get 60 minutes of daily exercise.
  • 65 percent watch over two hours of television a day.
  • 75 percent of children surveyed eat zero to two servings of vegetables daily.

Parents and Childhood Obesity Prevention

Parents are the most important role models in a child’s life. Obesity statistics show that children in families with active, healthy parents are less likely to suffer from childhood obesity than those with sedentary parents.

Parents can be involved in childhood obesity prevention by playing active games with their children and encouraging participation in sports and outdoor activities. Parents with daily exercise routines and healthy nutrition plans lead by example, providing daily reminders of the importance of staying fit and healthy.

Resources

American Academy of Pediatrics. (n.d.). Active healthy living: Prevention of childhood obesity through increased physical activity. Retrieved April 13, 2010, from the American Academy of Pediatrics Web site: www.aap.org/advocacy/releases/may06physicalactivity.htm.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2005). Prevalence of overweight among children and adolescents: United States, 1999 to 2002. Retrieved July 25, 2010, from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/pubs/pubd/hestats/overwght99.htm

Hill, J. O., Rodearmel, S. J., Wyatt, H. R., Stroebele, N., Smith, S. M.