How to Make A Difference During National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

Jill Murphy, Assistant Editor
Published Online: Tuesday, September 10th, 2019
About 19% of children in the United States are considered obese, and this has become a major public health problem in more recent years. National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month reminds us that there are multiple resources to help prevent obesity and support children in their pursuit to a healthier life.

Without the proper awareness of this health issue, children with obesity will be on track to developing other chronic health conditions, such as asthma, sleep apnea, bone and joint problems, and type 2 diabetes. Children with obesity can be bullied and teased more than their normal weight peers, making them more likely to suffer from social isolation, depression, and lower self-esteem. 1

They are also more likely to stay obese as an adult, which can lead to lifelong physical and mental health problems. Many types of cancers and heart disease are associated with adult obesity. 1

There are many factors that can influence childhood obesity, such as genetics, metabolism, family and home situation, social factors, and eating and physical activity behavior. A lack of sleep, easier access to inexpensive, high calorie foods, too much time spent being inactive, and unavailability of community physical activities can also play a role. 1


Some examples of valuable tools for childhood obesity include:
  • The Obesity Medicine Association, whose goal is to provide different resources to clinicians about obesity for their patients, along with tools and guidelines to diagnose and treat obesity.
  • MyPlate, the organization that not only gives great information about how to eat healthy and exercise, but provides children with games, activity sheets, videos, and songs about eating right and staying active.
  • Go Slow Whoa, a food chart used to help parents and kids classify what foods are appropriate to consume and when to eat certain foods.  
  • The CDC’s Child and Teen BMI Calculator, where parents can learn how to measure obesity and other potential weight issues. 2

At a state and local level, the community health department can encourage more physically active children by ensuring their neighborhoods have low-cost activities available, such as parks, trails, and community centers. With this, offering easy access to safe, free drinking water and healthy, affordable food options will bring children one step closer to becoming healthier. 1
 

References
  1. September is national childhood obesity month. CDC website. https://www.cdc.gov/features/childhoodobesity/index.html. Published September 11, 2018. Accessed September 10, 2019.
  2. Childhood obesity SIG. NAPNAP website. https://www.napnap.org/childhood-obesity-sig. Accessed September 10, 2019.



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