The percentage of overweight children in the United States is growing at an alarming rate, with 1 out of 3 kids now considered overweight or obese.
Many kids are spending less time exercising and more time in front of the TV, computer, or video-game console. And today’s busy families have fewer free moments to prepare nutritious, home-cooked meals. From fast food to electronics, quick and easy is the reality for many people.
Preventing kids from becoming overweight means adapting the way your family eats and exercises, and how you spend time together. Helping kids lead healthy lifestyles begins with parents who lead by example.
A number of factors contribute to becoming overweight. Genetics, lifestyle habits, or a combination of both may be involved. In some instances, endocrine (hormone) problems, genetic syndromes, and medications can be associated with excessive weight gain.
Obesity in kids is almost always influenced by lifestyle factors — such as drinking sugar-sweetened beverages; eating fatty, processed foods; not getting enough sleep; and spending too much time being sedentary (watching TV, playing with electronic devices, etc.) instead of being physically active.
Morbid obesity can greatly increase a person’s risk of numerous medical problems, including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, bone and joint problems, asthma, sleep apnea, liver and gallbladder disease, heart disease, and depression and other mental health issues.
Morbid obesity is best treated through lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthier diet, getting more exercise, and, sometimes, working with professionals who can help with this problem. When lifestyle changes alone aren’t effective, surgery may be done to decrease the risk of other health issues.