According to the CDC, obesity now affects 17% of all children and adolescents in the United States – triple the rate from just one generation ago. Healthy People 2010 identified overweight and obesity as 1 of 10 leading health indicators and called for a reduction in the proportion of children and adolescents who are overweight or obese, but the United States has made little progress toward the target goal. Progress toward reducing the national prevalence of overweight and obesity is monitored using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).
Childhood obesity is one of the greatest tragedies of our modern society. It is the result of the over-consumption of processed and refined “junk” foods, a lack of quality fresh foods and nutrients that the human body needs to develop and be healthy, and a lack of physical activity. The good news is that not only is it preventable, but that childhood obesity is reversible.
There are a variety of environmental factors that determine whether or not the healthy choice is the easy choice for children and their parents. American society has become characterized by environments that promote increased consumption of less healthy food and physical inactivity. It can be difficult for children to make healthy food choices and get enough physical activity when they are exposed to environments in their home, child care center, school, or community that are influenced by poor food choices and lack of opportunity to be active or participate in sports.
Doctors and scientists are concerned about the rise of obesity in children and youth because obesity may lead to the following health problems:
Type 2 diabetes
Childhood obesity is associated with various health-related consequences. Obese children and adolescents may experience immediate health consequences and may be at risk for weight-related health problems in adulthood.
It is crucial for proper development that children receive key nutrients from high quality foods. Many studies have shown the positive effect of DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid, on brain function and in the treatment of ADD and ADHD. Children also need to receive quality protein and minerals for proper skeletal and muscular development, plenty of filtered water, and good quality complex carbohydrates for sustained energy throughout the day.
There’s no great secret to healthy eating. To help your children and family develop healthy eating habits:
Lead by Example! Encourage healthy eating habits to your children by demonstrating them!
Provide plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole-grain products.
Include organic whole milk, yogurt, kefir, and unprocessed cheese.
Choose lean meats, poultry, fish, lentils, and beans for protein.
Serve healthy snacks and reasonably-sized portions.
Encourage your family to drink lots filtered of water.
Replace sugar-sweetened beverages with fruit teas sweetened with unrefined stevia.
Limit and work to eliminate the consumption of sugar and artificially saturated trans-fats.
As a parent, you can go along way to helping children learn to be aware of what they eat by being a good example and developing healthy eating habits together as a family. Better meals at home begin with buying better quality food at the grocery store, and discovering your local whole foods market and farmer’s market. Here at Healthy Cooking Concepts, our mission is to bring healthy cooking and healthy eating back to American families. We are here to support you in discovering healthy new recipes and helping you find ways to make your favorite dishes healthier. Take time as a family to check out our Healthy Recipe page and find some recipes that you would like to make together, and together shop for the highest quality, freshest foods you can find. Including your children in the decision making, food shopping, and meal preparation teaches them about healthy options and empowers them to take control of their health through healthy eating habits. Healthy, educated children grow into healthy, educated adults, and will be able to teach their children how to Cook For Life!