The health effects of childhood obesity stretch years beyond the playground. That’s why it’s so important to catch weight problems early.
Heart Disease and More
Children with extreme weight problems have a higher risk for many health problems— during childhood and into adulthood:
- Low self-esteem, depression, and negative body image
- Breathing problems, such as asthma and sleep apnea
- Chronic conditions, such as type 2 diabetes and bone and joint problems
Children who are obese are more likely to be obese as adults. Several serious health conditions are linked to adult obesity, including heart disease, some cancers, and diabetes.
Healthy Changes Can Help
If you think your child has a weight problem, talk with their doctor. Most overweight children don’t need to go on a diet. They simply need to be encouraged to eat healthier foods and move around more. Try adopting small but meaningful habits that can last a lifetime:
- Instead of limiting how much food your child eats, offer healthy choices that include lots of low-fat proteins, whole grains, and vegetables.
- Keep healthy snacks in your home, such as apples, bananas, carrots, and celery.
- Set limits on TV and computer time. Encourage your child to do something active instead.
- Sit down for family meals as often as possible. Avoid eating in front of the television, computer, or other electronic devices.
- Plan family exercise times. You could go for a walk or play basketball.
- Cut out sugary drinks, such as carbonated sodas. Offer water or fat-free or low-fat milk instead.
- Avoid fast food. If you do go out to eat, choose the healthiest options available.