One in three children and adolescents are either overweight or have non-illness related obesity in the United States. Excessive weight wreaks havoc on the body and increases the risk of medical conditions to develop, such as heart disease and diabetes. Emotionally, these children foster low self-esteem, face discrimination, and endure bullying way into adulthood. Even with a family history, the prevention and reversal of obesity in children and adolescents is achievable.
The statistics are scary and continue to draw concern year over year for our youth. By involving your entire family, and acting NOW, you can change all that.
Identifying the Cause
In the past four decades, obesity in children aged 12-19 has more than tripled. Overweight adolescents face a 70% increase in the chances of becoming overweight or obese adults. Various factors can cause obesity. Genetics, lack of activity, improper eating habits, or a combination of one or more are the most common. In rare cases, hormonal problems and specific medical conditions can also cause obesity.
What You Can Do
If you have a family history of obesity, your children are at an increased risk of being overweight. Making healthy lifestyle changes early can help your children secure those vital habits for the long term. The longer you wait, the harder it is for learned patterns to be broken. If your child already has a weight issue, it's never too late to get started.
Either way, supporting your child is always the first step. If they know, they are loved and supported no matter what their weight, they are more likely to feel better about themselves and come to you with any issues or concerns. Singling out overweight children should never be done, and whatever changes are made, the entire family should be on board. Below are a few changes you can make to help your children achieve and maintain a healthy weight:
- Lead by Example- If you are physically active, your children are more likely to remain active throughout their lives.
- Reduce Sedentary Activity Times- Actively make an effort to reduce time spent doing stationary activities such as sitting in front of the TV or playing video games.
- Healthy Food- Cut back on foods that are high in sugars and solid fats and incorporate more fruits and vegetables in meals.
- Family Activities- Plan activities that involve the entire family like swimming, walking, or exercising. Keep in mind that an overweight child may feel uncomfortable doing certain activities. These should not be embarrassing or too difficult.
If your teen is overweight and struggling to shed those pounds, even after trying everything, clinical research studies may be an option. Centex is currently enrolling participants for studies looking into a new weight loss modification option. To learn more, click here.