There is no question that we are in the midst of an obesity epidemic and a public health crisis. As September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, we cannot let this month go without addressing this growing problem. We want to provide those of you who are parents, those who work with children, uncles and aunts, and all adults who interact with kids, with simple, practical techniques that will help the children in your life achieve and maintain best health, and set a foundation of healthy eating habits.
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2017, for the first time, life expectancy at birth was lower than the previous year in the total U.S. population. The leading causes of death were heart disease and cancer. Both heart disease and many types of cancers are related to obesity. Starting healthy habits early will set your children up for not only a longer lifespan, but also a longer health span – the number of years they live healthy lives and avoid chronic, and often disabling, disease.
Unfortunately, the odds of setting our children up for success are against us. According to CDC, about 1 in 5 (19%) children in the United States has obesity.
Childhood obesity can be attributed to multiple factors. The most significant factors responsible for this rapid rise in obesity include increased portion size, snacks, increased consumption of processed foods, sugar and fats and inadequate physical activity. Other risk factors include family, psychological, socioeconomic and genetic factors. Besides causing adverse health effects, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and asthma, childhood obesity can result in social, cognitive and emotional consequences, such as lower self-esteem, mood disorders and poor academic performance.
To help parents and caregivers who are wondering what they can do to promote healthy nutrition habits, my colleague, Dr. Amitha Kalaichandran and I created videos on how to encourage healthy eating habits in children, and how to convert picky eaters into healthy (and happy!) eaters. I promise, these tools will work if practiced consistently!
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To better health for new generations,