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CHILDHOOD OBESITY

This may be the first generation to have a shorter life-expectancy than their parents.

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What is childhood obesity?

For a child to be considered obese, their body mass index (BMI) must be in the 95th percentile for children the same age and sex.

The number of overweight and obese children in the United States is growing at a rapid rate. Since 1980, the prevalence of obesity among children and adolescents has tripled. Roughly 1 in 3 children fall within the overweight and obese category and these numbers are increasing.

Could this alarming rate be based on the following statistics?

  • 50% of all advertising aimed at children promotes food and beverage
  • Only 4% of elementary schools have daily physical education classes
  • Children age 8-18 spend an average of 7.5 hours a day using entertainment media, including TV, computers, video games, cell phones, and movies. Of those 7.5 hours, about 4.5 hours is dedicated to viewing TV.

An obese second grader is 22 pounds heavier than their peers,
weight those peers would struggle even to lift.

22 lbs Equals
As many as 1 in 5 children age 6-11 are obese

Why?

There are too many factors that contribute to childhood obesity to point the finger at any one specific cause. Despite this, it behooves us to acknowledge some of the most obvious contributors to this glut of overweight children.

Experts note that having both parents in the workforce erodes the prevalence of home cooked meals. Busy parents turn to easy solutions at the drive-thru or to packaged foods, that are often

high-calorie and with low nutritional value. The food available at schools may be no different. Nutrition education is essential for both children and their parents.

While a bad diet is a huge contributor to this epidemic, a shift in lifestyle for children is also to blame. The children of today live their lives in front of the television, computers, video games and smart phones. Less physical activity at school and at home means kids aren’t getting the exercise necessary for healthy development.

Consequences

Obesity can take a big toll on a kid’s body, such as:

  • Bone & joint problems
  • Sleep apnea
  • Heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Stroke

What’s worse, is that some of these health issues may carry into adulthood, if the child’s health condition is not addressed.

Aside from the serious health risks associated with obesity, the psychological effects can can also be devastating. The impact of bullying, teasing, and social alienation can seriously affect a child’s self-esteem, the effects of which may carry through to adulthood.

Today’s Youth could be the 1st generation with a shorter life expectancy than their parents
50% of advertising aimed at children promots food and beverage

In their own words:

“I knew I needed to lose weight, but the food was just too tempting... I didn’t have many friends in school. I was never picked on, because I stayed invisible. I had a few friends that I ate lunch with, but we never did anything outside of school. I was afraid if I tried to make friends they would shoot me down, or make fun of me behind my back...

It’s hard to change bad habits. It’s hard to gain self esteem after you have punished yourself for so long. I still don’t try to make friends with others I don’t know and avoid people I haven’t seen in a long time because it is easier.” – obesityhelp.com

According to USDA, only 2% of American children eat enough fruits & vegetables

Childhood obesity needs many voices to represent the thousands of children that suffer and struggle everyday. This month we shine our light on all of them to bring much needed awareness and help.

Let’s fight childhood obesity together.

FoodCorps

School Gardening & Education
FoodCorps

FoodCorps believes that through three core principles: knowledge, engagement, and access, they will be able to curb the obesity epidemic. The FoodCorps program currently has 50 service members across 10 states focusing on the three core areas.

FoodFight

Food Education for Teachers & Teens
FoodFight

FoodFight believes that educating the educators will help reverse childhood obesity. By bringing holistic nutrition education to both student and teacher, healthy choices trickle from the classroom into the lives of the students’ families.

Seeds in the Middle

Fitness & School Gardening
Seeds in the Middle

Serving an area of Brooklyn historically burdened by racial tension and criminal activity, Seeds in the Middle seeks to help the children of Crown Heights develop healthy habits for success in an otherwise challenging environment.