September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. One in three children in the United states is overweight or obese. Childhood obesity can put a child at higher risk for multiple health issues, including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. Fortunately, childhood obesity can also be rather easily prevented.
The community as a whole, including families, churches, schools and healthcare providers, must join forces to create a healthy environment for children to grow up in. School administrators are paramount crating a healthy school environment, which includes proper nutrition being served in school cafeterias as well as structured physical activity programs being available to children.
Healthcare providers should join forces with other community leaders to encourage the availability of playgrounds, well lit, safe bike trails and parks, and after school health education programs. Additionally, there should be an emphasis on preventive care, such as free school health screenings.
Finally, on the home front, parents and family members alike need to take charge of their health. There should be an emphasis on nutritional foods being available to children, and a conscious effort to reduce intake of “fast foods” and other processed, high calorie and fat content foods. Simple, daily activity- walks after dinner, bike riding, and running, are all cost effective ways to incorporate activity into daily lives. Limiting time in front of the television, or computer, will greatly impact the average child’s activity level.
For more information on childhood obesity, and ideas on improving overall health and activity, check out the American College of Sports Medicine.