How to Prevent Childhood Obesity

Childhood obesity continues to rise, and so do the negative results that come with it. Type 2 diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure, and early social discrimination are just a few of the issues faced by an obese child. This article will help you in maintaining a healthy weight for your child, and eliminate the unfavorable consequences of childhood obesity.


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    Know the health risks that can come with childhood obesity:
    • Cardiovascular disease, caused by high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and abnormal glucose tolerance.
    • Asthma.
    • Type 2 diabetes.
    • Sleep apnea.
    • Fatty degeneration of the liver.
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    Understand that there are psychological risks as well. Children who are obese can suffer social discrimination. The stress caused by this can lead to low self-esteem. This in turn can slow down intellectual and social performance. These debilities may carry over into adulthood.
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    Help your child maintain a healthy weight. The following steps will help you bring about the changes your child needs to defeat obesity.
    • Develop Healthy Eating Habits

      • Limit the eating of sugar and saturated fats, and especially trans fat.
      • Make available a generous supply of vegetables, fruits, and whole-grain products.
      • Advocate drinking more water and less sugar-sweetened drinks.
      • Serve appropriately-sized portions. Remember how small your child's stomach really is.
      • When possible, use low-fat or non-fat milk or dairy products as appropriate. In some cases low fat milk is not appropriate.
      • Select lean meats, poultry, fish, and beans for protein.
      • Make healthy changes to old recipes.
      • Replace high-sugar high-fat foods with healthy alternatives.
      • Remove unhealthy temptations.
    • Increase your child's physical activity. It is recommended that children and teens get an hour of moderate intensity physical activity daily. A few examples include:

      • A brisk walk
      • Jump rope
      • Swimming
      • Playing soccer
      • Dancing
      • A game of tag
    • Limit the time your child spends watching TV, playing video games, or surfing the Web. A two hour limit of sedentary time is a good goal. If your child can’t control his or her time on the Internet on his own, consider buying a software-based computer timer such as Ez Internet Timer. With this program, parents can easily enforce time limits.
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    Help your child develop a good attitude to food and nutrition. Reward your child with things other than 'treat' foods so they grow up feeling chocolate, cake, cookies, chips, fizzy drinks etc are not something they deserve or a form of consolation. Avoid them forming a habit of comforting eating, if possible. It's easy for parents to feel they are depriving their children if they deny them what their peers are enjoying. You're being a good parent if your child has a healthy, balanced diet, however much the child may whinge and whine, that, "Everyone else is allowed candy for breakfast".


  • If you want to determine if your child is obese, use a BMI-Body Mass Indicator. (See the Sources and Citations section below)
  • Be an example for your child. If you are overweight, begin eating healthy and encourage your whole family to participate in physical activities as a group.
  • Instead of a candy bar or a bag of chips, provide your child with one of these healthy, 100 calories or less snacks:
    • 1 medium-size apple
    • A cup of grapes
    • 1 medium-size banana
    • A cup of blueberries
  • Overeating is obviously not the lone cause of childhood obesity. Genetic, behavioral, and environmental factors play a part as well.

    • Genetic Factor: Studies have shown that genetics can play a part in childhood obesity. Combined with behavioral and environmental factors, genetics can have a significant effect on a child's weight. Genetic disorders, such as Prader-Willi syndrome, can, in a very small number of cases, be responsible for excessive weight gain. A visit to a physician will determine if genes play a part in your child's obesity.
    • Behavioral Factor: Certain behaviors can be responsible for contributing to obesity in children. Children who consume large amounts of sugar-sweetened foods and drinks may not always participate in physical activities. Studies have shown that a child's metabolic rate can be lowered if he/she spends a large number of hours per day playing video games or watching TV. Eating convenient foods, such as power drinks, high-sugar high-caffeine sodas, and energy bars during this time contributes to this. Frequent snacking also leads to a child eating less during regular mealtimes.
    • Environmental Factor: Children mimic their role models. Parents who do not set a good example for their children may contribute to their obesity. Child care providers are also responsible for proper nutritional choices for the children under their watch. Schools across the country have soda machines and candy dispensers in their hallways. Commercial fast food items have been added to some school menus. In some areas children do not have easy access to parks, bike paths or playgrounds. The availability of affordable, healthy food at local grocery stores may be limited. These environmental factors singularly or combined increase a child's risk for obesity.


  • Children and teenagers should not be placed on a weight reduction diet before consulting a physician.
  • Obese children and adolescents are more likely to become obese as adults.

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Categories: Childhood Health | Health for Teens and Kids