There’s no question that overweight Americans and obesity rates are on the rise and this epidemic is being passed onto our children. The Trust For America’s Health organization calls it “one of the country’s most serious health problems,” and notes that while adult obesity rates have doubled since 1980, from 15 to 30%, our children’s numbers have more than tripled.
There are many risks associated with growing up overweight, but thankfully our health insurance coverage can help avoid these dangerous dilemmas. Rather than looking at the risks, let’s examine the rewards that can come from effective preventative care.
TALK TO YOUR CHILD’S PEDIATRICIAN
The best defense is a good offense and preventing obesity comes with forethought and planning. Two of the best ways to nip obesity in the bud is through a healthy diet and exercise. We’ve all heard the warning, “Talk to your doctor before changing your diet or exercise routine,” and the same is true for our children. See what your child’s doctor recommends for your kid’s diet and exercise routine as outlined below.
Nowadays, we can’t count on our school systems to ensure that our children are getting the appropriate amount of exercise. Guidelines from the Department of Health and Human Services state children over the age of six should be getting at least one hour of physical activity every day.
While you may envision your elementary age child running and playing during recess, they could be sitting on a bench and talking with their friends. If you believe your adolescent is playing sports during their Physical Education class, they could be the goalie on the soccer team standing sedentary for the entire period. Parents need to be proactive in order to ensure their child is getting enough exercise. Perhaps this means a daily bike ride, a brisk walk in the park, joining an after school athletics program or other activities that gets our kids moving.
While we may be feeding our children healthy, well-balanced meals at home, especially when it comes to older kids, we never really know what they’re eating out in the real world. When a child reaches adolescence, this is the time when they develop habits that could last a lifetime, like smoking, and the same is true for their eating rituals. This is the time when we should ensure they aren’t getting hooked on junk food, unhealthy snacks and fast food, which can be just as dangerous as nicotine in the long run.
Doctors are looking for for signs of early obesity in overweight children and these include preventative measures that go beyond simply placing them on a scale. They also examine BMI (Body Mass Index), which is a simple calculation based on weight and height. The resulting figures indicate whether a person is underweight, normal, overweight or obese.
If these numbers are too high, they will likely recommend blood work that will screen for health concerns like diabetes and cholesterol. They will also monitor blood pressure and should be discussing ways to drop this excess weight from your child.
While we can vaccinate our children against viral threats that used to be a major concern for an epidemic, like the measles and other communicable diseases, there’s no shot available to prevent obesity. The only answers when it comes to avoiding obesity are getting preventative care, eating a healthy diet and getting more exercise.