National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

Post by Dr. Mary Jo Stine

It’s a fact.  Kid’s are getting fatter.  One-third of children are now overweight or obese.  How did this happen?  Why worry about it?  What can we do to fight this? 

The Pepsi Generation.  Soft drinks have certainly contributed to the obesity epidemic.  The typical can of soda contains 250 calories.  But who stops at 20 ounces?  Gas stations often offer 44 ounce or larger drinks for the same price.  The calorie content of a 44 ounce drink?  550 – that’s one-third of an eight year-old’s total daily calorie requirement.  And it takes only eight of them to add a pound to your weight….

Big Macs.  Upsize those fries.  Portion sizes have gotten bigger and so has the calorie content of most fast foods.  Fast food is relatively cheap and an easy option for working parents.  And kids absolutely love those toys that come with the kid’s meals! 

It’s not only eating more that’s contributed to the problem with obesity, but it’s also moving less.  Air conditioning and electronics have led to a very sedentary life style for most people.  Too often I hear, “It’s too hot out” or “It’s not safe to let the children play outdoors.” 

So what’s the big deal?  Obesity kills.  Obesity results in increased heart disease, diabetes, and sleep apnea.  Some cancers are even related to obesity.  Lower self-esteem can lead to depression and poor school and job performance. 

How do we combat this obesity epidemic?  FIRST, cut out the unnecessary calories like soda and fast food.  Eat at home.  Eat more fruits and vegetables, drink water or diet soda.  SECOND, get moving.  Take family walks, exercise the dog, and go to the park.  Turn off the TV and computer games and children will naturally become more active (play tag, dance, jump rope, play kickball, etc.)

Be healthy and live longer and better.  Eating right and exercising more is the ticket to a longer and healthier life!

Help your kids learn to make healthier food choices by playing the My Plate “Blast Off” game!

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