The well-known “obesity epidemic” became common vernacular in recent years when the amount of obese American children and adults surpassed similar data from any other time in history.
Recent reports show one in three children in the U.S. are overweight or obese. Much of this epidemic is caused by the types of food we eat, how much of these foods we eat and how many modern conveniences limit our need to exert physical activity of any kind.
So, how do Lompoc children fare?
Not well. Lompoc’s childhood obesity rate is more than double the state’s average, sitting around 49 percent. This means that half of all children living in the Lompoc community have a 70-percent chance of becoming an obese or overweight adult.
Childhood obesity also puts kids at risk for health problems that were once seen only in adults, like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
Childhood obesity can also lead to poor self-esteem, depression and learning or other behavior issues. This could be a result of, or compounded by, social stigma and bullying associated with a child’s weight.
What is the good news? Childhood obesity can be prevented. For children, experts recommend at least one hour of physical activity per day and a balanced diet focused on vegetables, fruit, healthy fats and lean meats with limits on refined grains and sugars. If you’re concerned about your child’s health, there’s no time like the present to start you and your child down the path to a healthy life.
Communities, health professionals, and families can work together to create opportunities for kids to eat healthier and move more. Be sure to consult with a health care provider for detailed guidance on what will work for you and your family.
Life can be busy and stressful when parents and children are always on the go. A strategy in achieving health is to focus on one small task per week. Choose goals and tasks that fit easily into your daily routine, that are cost effective, don’t require too much thought and motivate your child’s participation. Make it easy and make it fun.
Some examples include making a salad for dinner with funny vegetable faces and food coloring in the dressing, taking a family walk or bike ride after a meal, or powering down anything with a screen and playing an active game; at home Olympics complete with homemade medals is a blast.
Addressing your child’s health now will lead to a lifetime of sound choices. But you’ll also be helping everyone in the family, and together, you can achieve your goal of a healthier life.