Obesity is a condition defined as having abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to health. In the United States, this is a condition that has grown to affect all age groups. Obesity rates among children have doubled since 1980, and have tripled for teens. About 19.7% of children ages 2 to 19 are considered obese. That means that about 1 in 5 American children has obesity.

This condition comes with a variety of other health risks, from disease susceptibility to mental health concerns. This is part of why prevention and implementing healthy habits at a young age is crucial.

they are Know the Risks

Obesity has been a frequent topic of health conversations during the past decade. And research has uncovered many conditions that obesity can cause. Here are some obesity-related health risks:

• Early onset of type 2 diabetes

• Stroke

• Sleep apnea

• Heart and blood vessel disease

• Gallbladder disease

• Asthma

• Linked to chronic anxiety and depression

• Osteoarthritis

It’s also important to know that the longer someone remains obese the more at risk they are to these health conditions.

Why Early Prevention is Important

Obesity is difficult to treat. Once that point is reached it requires a lot of work and a significant lifestyle shift. The reason why early prevention is so critical is that the likelihood of childhood obesity persisting into adulthood increases as the child ages. Working healthy habits into your child’s lifestyle early is the best prevention and will likely carry with them into adulthood.

Obesity Prevention Tips and Healthy Habits

Most commonly young people can become obese from poor eating habits and lack of physical activity. Genetics can also affect a child’s weight.

Establish Healthy Eating Habits

•  Introduce your children to nutritious foods early to create a good relationship with fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and whole-grain products.

• Swap out sugar-heavy drinks. Water, 100% juices, and low-fat milk are less fattening options.

• Limit calorie-rich temptations for snacks.

• Don’t use food as a reward and don’t withhold food as punishment.

•  Encourage children to eat only when hungry. Tell them to eat slowly.

Get Enough Sleep

• Inadequate sleep leads us to eat more and move less. Make sure you’re getting plenty of good sleep. Check out our blog about healthy sleep habits!

Be Active

• Encourage physical activity. A child should have 60 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week. More than 60 minutes of activity may help with weight loss and keeping a healthy weight.

• Be active as a family. Go on walks or bike rides together. It sets a good example and is a nice bonding experience.

• There are a lot of benefits that come with being regularly active like strengthening bones, decreasing blood pressure, reducing stress and anxiety, increasing self-esteem, and of course, helping with weight management.


Additional Tips

•  Be a role model. Parents who eat healthy foods and do physical activity set an example. A child is more likely to do the same.

• Reduce screen time and other sedentary activities.

• When making changes, don’t just focus on a child’s weight. Work to change family eating habits and activity levels over time.

Resources: Centers for Disease Control. and Prevention, John Hopkins Medicine, University of Rochester Medical Center, Healthline