According to the Center’s for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity has made drastic changes in the last thirty years. The rate for children has doubled, and the rate for adolescents has quadrupled.
With the changes both to our diets and how our daily lives are structured, this trend was expected. Now that we’ve witnessed the changes, we must now examine how to help our children make better choices to avoid obese children growing into obese adults.
As with adults, obesity carries similar risks in children. The rate of cardiovascular disease risk factors including elevated blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, and becoming prediabetic skyrocket with obesity. While genetics can make a child predisposed to having certain conditions, they play a small role when it comes to obesity. The most contributing factors are decreased activity and poor diet. Obesity is also seen in lower socioeconomic conditions. Poverty tends to breed ill health, which also leads to poverty. With all of this information in mind, the question does become “How do we prevent obesity?” This question can be answered for both adults and children alike. The simplest answer is to keep moving!
The US Surgeon General wants Americans to exercise most, if not all days, of the week. Accumulating 150 minutes a week is enough to keep most sedentary diseases, like obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc., at bay. Those 150 minutes can be broken up throughout the week and do not have to be done each day. Daily physical activity does help children focus when they need to, such as during their classroom time, and also helps them to rest better. Adequate rest has also been shown to help improve metabolism in both adults and children alike, helping to reduce the risk of obesity. Another contributing factor as mentioned previously is diet. A diet filled with sugary beverages, high fat foods, and those that are highly processed along with the sedentary lifestyle are the recipe for obesity!
In a world where salads are $5.00 and fast food hamburgers are $1, it almost becomes a necessity to bend to what makes more sense economically. While it can be argued that this seems necessary, there are several ways to reduce your grocery bill to have a better diet. Living in southwest Florida we have the luxury of many warm months to grow fresh produce. If you are unable to grow your own produce, there are several farmers markets in the area. Supporting local farmers not only helps our local economy, but the produce is fresh from the local area. These markets tend to sell their goods at a price that is cheaper than a grocery store as the margin for marking up their cost is reduced. Eating a diet closer to nature has been shown to not only help maintain one’s weight, but also helps reduce many conditions. Many food allergies, or other bothersome conditions, have been shown by living a plant based lifestyle. While that may be extreme for some, when your child is suffering from food allergies and also has various behavioral difficulties, this diet may prove beneficial.
Our local Safe and Healthy Children’s Coalition of Collier County has developed a number to help parents and families remember what children need to live a healthy life. The number: 95210. They stand for 9 hours of sleep each night, 5 fruits and vegetables, 2 hours of screen time a day, 1 hour of physical activity and 0 sugary beverages. With these numbers in mind, our children will have the tools necessary to make smart decisions as adults.
The Greater Naples YMCA offers programming to help keep both the parents, and children, healthy and active. At our Summer Camp and After School programs we work with the kids to keep them active and educate them about the importance of staying active and eating healthy. In our new Healthy Living Center opening later this year, we will have the ability to show how we can grow our food from a seed, and bring it to our table and make healthy and inviting dishes. We also offer youth sports including swim lessons for the kids! We look forward to seeing you at the Y. Call us at 239-597-3148 or visit us at www.greaternaplesymca.org for more information.
Greater Naples YMCA | 5450 YMCA Road, Naples, FL 34109 | (239) 597-3148