Childhood ObesityChildhood obesity remains an unsettling trend that isn’t slowing down in Canada. As something that can be easily prevented, it’s important that families educate themselves on the causes, risk factors and steps to avoid. As a parent, you have many expectations for your children. You only want the best for them and dream of them growing up healthy and strong. Unfortunately, regardless of best intentions, many children don’t get off to a healthy start which can potentially have a negative effect on their wellbeing for the rest of their lives.

What is childhood obesity?
Childhood obesity occurs when a child weighs well above other children his or her age and height due to storing too much fat. Children can become obese when they eat too much and exercise too little. Often times, an obese child is the result of consuming too many processed and sugary foods. With many families leading busy lives, it may feel easier for parents to offer foods that may be convenient but are not considered healthy. Unfortunately, convenience can lead to complications that could affect your child for the long term, leading them into a downward spiral of potential health and body image issues.

Many risk factors are associated with childhood obesity including:

  • Type II diabetes – Diabetes is something only adults over the age of 40 once worried about developing. Unfortunately, this disease is now being found in children as young as 10 years of age.
  • Cardiovascular disease – Children who are overweight by the age of seven have an increased risk of becoming overweight adults and developing cardiovascular disease.
  • Osteoarthritis – Usually affecting the elderly, osteoarthritis can also be found in children with higher than average weight.
  • Depression – Children who are considered overweight develop poor self image and withdraw from their peers.
  • Cancer – Unfortunately, cancer has become more common in children who are considered obese.

While these risk factors should be cause for concern, the good news is that they can be prevented. Taking the measures to ensure your children avoid childhood obesity and lead healthy lifestyles isn’t difficult. Try these simple tips to preventing early weight management issues and getting your children on the right track:

  • Incorporate exercise into your children’s routine by organizing regular family activities such as walks, hiking, skiing, swimming and biking.
  • Encourage your children to join team sports.
  • Teach your children good eating habits by setting a good example yourself.
  • Avoid keeping junk food in the house. Instead, feed your children a variety of easy yet healthy snacks such as apples, celery and peanut butter, and grapes.
  • Limit the time your children spend watching television and playing video games.
  • Teach your children about healthy eating by following the Canada Food Guide.

It’s important to note that parents with children who are already considered obese should not begin an exercise or diet program without consulting their doctor first. Parents should also remember that an overweight child often grows up to become an overweight adult. This is why prevention and education is extremely important when conquering childhood obesity. .