September is National Childhood Obesity Month.  Almost 20% of American children are considered obese -  that is one out of five. This can lead to lifelong physical and mental health problems. Obesity can also increase a child’s chances of developing asthma, sleep apnea, and type 2 diabetes.  Children with obesity can be bullied and teased more than their normal-weight peers. They are also more likely to suffer from social isolation, depression, and lower self-esteem. And Children with obesity are more likely to be obese adults. Adult obesity is associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and many types of cancers. We need to do all we can to change their lifestyle and risk a lifetime of physical and mental health issues. 

There are many causes of childhood obesity and because every child grows at different rates it can be hard to pinpoint just one.  If a child you know spends a lot of time being inactive this can be a contributing factor.  Limiting screen time and signing a child up for sports or encouraging him or her to play outside is a helpful fix to a sedentary lifestyle. 

Diet plays a major role as well, so it is important to limit sugary, fast foods, and processed foods.  Replace sugary soda and juice with water flavored with fruit. Start their day with a big glass of water and have them drink water throughout the day to keep them full and to help them stay hydrated.

Get your kids involved in the food shopping and cooking so they can learn more about nutrition. Stock your cupboards and refrigerator with healthy, nutritious foods. Overhauling your family’s diet all at once can cause confusion and frustration. Start with a few changes each week and with your whole family about these changes. Focus less on losing weight and more on living healthier. Get the whole family on board so one child does not feel singled out.

As a parent, it is our job to teach our children about living a healthy lifestyle, That is why it is crucial for us to set an example of eating nutritious foods and getting regular physical activity, as well as avoiding harmful habits such as smoking. Children learn more from what we do than what we say.