With obesity rates among the youngest kids high, some tips to be active
Posted September 22, 2013
Obesity among even our youngest children is at an alarming high in North Carolina.
According to the N.C. Pediatric Nutrition Surveillance System, about 3 of every 10 low-income children ages 2 to 4 are either overweight or obese. And, over the past three decades, the obesity rate has more than doubled among that same age group, increasing from about 7 percent in 1981 to 15.4 percent in 2011. The number of overweight children of the same age also increased from 11.7 percent in 1981 to 16.2 percent in 2011.
Those extra pounds can add up to all sorts of problems for kids who are just starting their lives, including the risk for elevated cholesterol, insulin and blood pressure. What's more, obese toddlers often turn into obese older children and adults. Experts say that children who are obese at 6 or overweight by age 12 have a 50 percent likelihood of becoming obese adults. Those aren't great odds.
This month is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. And, in response, the N.C. Institute of Medicine, a quasi-state agency, has released a new report with ideas for tackling the obesity rates among our toddlers and preschoolers. The report is the result of a collaborative effort between the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation, the North Carolina Partnership for Children, and the Institute of Medicine.
The recommendations focus on way doctors and day cares can help in the battle against obesity. Recommendations include improving the treatment and prevention of early childhood obesity in health care settings; integrating healthy activities into child care settings; using community resources to reduce childhood obesity; and expanding the collection and reporting of physical activity and nutrition data.
You can read much more about it on the Institute of Medicine's website.
While many of the recommendations target health care providers and day care teachers, I also checked in with officials about what parents can do at home to prevent weight gain or to help their kids lose weight in a fun and healthy way.
Be Active Kids, part of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation, has some great online tips and resources for parents. Here are some ideas for keeping kids active from Be Active Kids:
- 101 things to do with a stick
- 50 things to do with a beach ball
- Fun ideas for using play things indoor and outdoors
- and a big page of snack, food and activity ideas.
At my house, my husband and I work hard to model healthy and active lives. We keep the TV off; cook most of our meals at home; and exercise or just spend lots of time outside. I find that our best days as a family are the ones where we've spent most of it running around outdoors.