MOUNT KISCO, N.Y. -- Childhood obesity has become one of the biggest health problems in the United States. As more and more children become overweight, an array of health complications often follow. Fortunately for parents, obesity doesn't occur overnight and can often be reversed with healthy exercise and eating habits.
How prevalent is childhood obesity? Almost one third of children and adolescents in the United States are either overweight or obese, a figure which has tripled since the 1970s. Although genetic factors play a role in dangerous weight gain, most children suffer from additional influencing factors. Foods such as sugar-sweetened beverages, unhealthy snacks, as well as increased portion sizes can lead to excessive caloric intake. Coupled with a sedentary lifestyle, decreased physical activity and increased screen time, adolescents create a recipe for unhealthiness.
While obesity poses a threat in and of itself, many doctors also fear the host of issues the disorder invites. Along with well-known risks such as Type 2 diabetes, obesity can spur heart disease, high blood pressure, joint problems, fatty liver disease and obstructive sleep apnea.
In order to combat obesity, aggressive diet and exercise is the most effective solution. Replacing empty calories with complex carbohydrates, lean protein, fruits and vegetables as well as controlling portions is the first step in managing a child's weight. Output is as important as input, and 45 minutes of daily activity is essential to burning off any excess consumption.
When fighting obesity, it's important for a child not to go it alone. A team approach of physicians, family members and school personnel can encourage a child to make healthier choices and live a more active lifestyle.
To learn more about childhood obesity and ways to keep your child in shape, visit CareMount Medical's website.