As parents, we MUST help stop this horrifying epidemic. Momlogic expert Dr. Cara Natterson gives her advice on this weighty issue.
Consider the numbers: One in three adolescents and two out of three adults are either overweight or obese in this country. Why is this happening ... and what can we do?
"Obesity is one of the hardest things to recognize for a parent," says ML pediatrician Dr. Cara Natterson. "Parents don't want to recognize that their child is having a problem, because it is the last thing they want for them. It puts the parents in crisis mode because of all that obesity implies: the loss of self-confidence, bullying, health implications, sadness."
This is an issue that can absolutely no longer be ignored, but what exactly IS this disease that's eating away at the health of this country, and what can we do to prevent it?
A child is considered obese if their weight is at least 10% higher than what is recommended for their height and body type. Studies have shown that a child who is obese between the ages of 10 and 13 has an 80% chance of becoming an obese adult.
Dr. Cara says there is a simple explanation to why a large part of our
youth is obese: "Our portions are too big, we eat too many calories and
we do not exercise like we used to," she says. "We drive, we watch TV, we sit. The
human body needs to move."
You must take a no-nonsense approach to setting rules in your household, says Dr. Cara. "Teens just as much as kids need rules," she explains. "The idea of their right to privacy and having computers and televisions in their rooms is not the correct way of approaching this."
Dr. Cara's advice:
1. Put computers in the kitchen or a space where kids can be monitored. Allow them two hours of "screen time" daily -- this includes computer, television, video games, iPods.
2. Apply the same rules for everyone in the house, not just the child or teen that is struggling with obesity. Everyone has the same amount of screen time and exercise time, and everyone eats similar foods. Make this a family pact so as to not alienate your obese child.
3. Create activity times with Mom and Dad. One day a week, Dad takes the kids out for a physical activity, and the other day Mom does it. Kids don't want to be fat, but oftentimes, they are too young to join a gym. Demonstrate the importance of physical activity.
4. Remove soda and junk food from the household. Create a healthy family environment for everyone.
5. Limit fast food, take-out, and eating out. Prepare foods at home as a family. Eat a diet rich in calcium and fiber, and limit the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.
6. Enforce a rule of one hour of physical activity a day. (Otherwise, they won't receive their screen time.)
Most importantly, create an environment that supports and encourages healthy choices.
What do you do in your household to foster fitness and health? Share your tips and get advice in the momlogic community.