Childhood obesity is increasing at an alarming rate in the United States. The childhood obesity rates in our country have increased from 5 percent to 12 percent in 2-to-5 year olds and from 5 percent to 17 percent in 12-to-19 year olds over a 15 year period. Here in mid-Missouri, we are certainly not immune to this problem.
A Missouri study performed in the 2000-2001 school year showed that 21.5 percent of Missouri students were overweight. Childhood obesity is considered a BMI at or above the 95th percentile and overweight is considered a BMI at or above the 85th percentile. BMI or body mass index is a measurement which reflects the relationship between one’s height and weight.
Overweight and obesity in childhood can have ramifications that can affect your child’s health for their entire lives. Children who are overweight as teenagers are significantly at risk for obesity by the time they are 25 years old. Children who fall into the obese category have an increased risk for Type 2 Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, asthma, liver disease, arthritis and joint pain, and sleep apnea.
What should you do if you think your child may be obese, overweight, or at risk for being overweight?
Your pediatrician is a great resource for information regarding dietary recommendations and exercise for children.
Get moving! Physical activity is a great way to burn calories and to have fun as a family. The American Heart Association recommends that children get 60 minutes of moderate activity daily. Active exercise includes hiking, jogging, jumping rope, dancing, inline skating, playing basketball, and swimming. Work up to that 60 minute mark if your child has been largely sedentary up to now.
Limit screen time. Our culture’s increased dependence on “screen time” has contributed to the decrease in active time for our children. “Screen time” includes time in front of the TV, computer, and video game systems.
Increase the intake of fruits and vegetables. Decrease the intake of “empty calories” or foods that are high in fat and calories but low on nutrients. Make more meals at home and decrease the trips through the fast food drive thru window.
St. Mary’s is a partner in CeMO WeCan, a community coalition striving to provide education and activity resources/choices to central Missouri families and schools. Other partners in the coalition include: Capital Region Medical Center, Cole County Health Department, Jefferson City Parks and Recreation Department, Jefferson City School District, the YMCA and more. CeMO WeCan is offering a program entitled, Be Fit Family, or BFF. BFF is an eight week program designed to offer education and activities for families on a weekly basis to help promote a healthy lifestyle. This program will be offered to a limited number of middle school students. If interested, please contact the Cole County Health Department (573) 636-2181, ext 3107, for more information.