A Weighty Issue!

CHILDHOOD OBESITY HAS BECOME A SERIOUS HEALTH PROBLEM IN TODAYS SOCIETY.

Childhood obesity in Australia is rising at an alarming rate

There is no doubt that modern technology is having an impact on the health of the community.

People find taking the car to be a far easier option than walking reasonably short distances, and no body gets out of their seat anymore to change the TV channel?

Unfortunately, it’s our children who are suffering because of these attitudes – or at least they will later in life.

Childhood obesity is fast becoming one of our nation’s biggest health problems. Figures released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare show that seven­and-a-half million Australians are obese or overweight. Further figures indicate that 65 per cent of the population will be overweight by the year 2020.

Childhood obesity is also rising at an alarming rate; in less than 20 years, there has been an increase in diagnosis from 10 to 30 per cent. Couple this with the fact that overweight or obese children have a high chance of progressing to adult obesity, and our nation will no doubt continue to climb the list of being the fattest in the world (Australia currently sits within the top five fattest countries).

WHY IS IT SO?

Although there are many factors to take into consideration, there has been a marked decline in children’s physical activity during the last decade. Wide-ranging technological, social ,economic and environmental changes have compounded the growing health problem; for instance, TV programs, computer games and ipads have replaced traditional playtime activities.

Another contributing factor to childhood obesity is the increasing consumption of high fat/high energy foods. This has caused an imbalance between the amount of energy consumed and the amount of energy expended, which in turn leads to an unhealthy weight and fat gain.

LIFESTYLE

In an attempt to counteract this epidemic, schools are changing their canteen menu and sporting policies, but ultimately it is the responsibility of parents to ensure children have a balanced nutrition and exercise plan in place.

There are certain exercise and nutrition guidelines that can be implemented to help reduce the child obesity rate.

In relation to physical activity:

• Children should exercise every day, in as many different ways as possible. Activities could include swimming, ball sports, or bicycling – any activity that they enjoy.

• Encourage children to participate in a given sport in both winter and summer.

• Incorporate family exercise into your children’s routine.

• Discourage sedentary activities such as playing video and computer games, using the Internet, or watching TV.

• Encourage ‘incidental exercise’ such as walking to the shops or taking the stairs instead of using the escalator.

HINTS FOR HEALTHY EATING

When it comes to nutrition, it is important for children to:

· Eat a balanced diet;

· Be encouraged to eat breakfast (the most important meal of the day!);

· Eat fruit and/or vegetables as a snack instead of fatty or sugary foods;

· Try to eat meals in a family atmosphere;

· Let food settle in their stomach before deciding on a ‘seconds’ helping;

· Limit the amount of soft drink consumed, and encourage drinking water instead;

· Discourage snacking to alleviate boredom;

· Avoid using food as a reward; and

· Make dietary changes subtle and slow.

There are numerous health risks associated with childhood obesity. Children and adolescents who are overweight or obese are more likely, in the short term,to develop gastrointestinal, endocrine, and orthopedic problems. In the longer term, they are more likely to develop diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and are at greater risk of premature death.

Why subject children to these problems when the answer is simple?

Be active, eat well, and live a longer happier life.



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