Feature Articles: Food, Fitness and Children
Help Children With
Tammy Roberts, MS, RD, LD,
Healthcare professionals measure overweight in childhood by
plotting height and weight on a growth chart. If weight for
height is between the 85th and 95th percentile, the child is
considered at risk for overweight. A child or teen at or above
the 95th percentile is considered overweight.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the prevalence
of overweight for 6-11 year old children has increased from 7%
in 1980 to almost 19% in 2004. As a result of being overweight,
children have an additional risk factor for heart disease, high
blood pressure, bone and joint problems, and asthma. It is
estimated that one in three American children born in the year
2000 will develop diabetes in their lifetime. According to the
National Institutes of Health, most diagnosis of type 2 diabetes
in children occur in those who are overweight. Diagnosis such as
these will greatly impact the quality of life for these
In addition to the risk for disease, there is an increased
risk for low self-esteem and depression in children who are
overweight. Overweight children often cannot keep up with the
other children at recess and may be teased as a result.
Weight loss is not recommended for most children. The key is
establishing healthy habits for the entire family. Encourage
activity and be active with your children. The activity does not
need to be a formal activity that requires skill. It can be as
simple as raking and jumping into a pile of leaves. Limit
television watching. We just don’t burn calories watching TV.
Involve children in menu planning and meal preparation and eat
together as a family. Limit the number of sugar-sweetened
drinks. One of these drinks can have more than 100 calories and
that is 1/10 of the calories needed for some two and three year
old children. Let children choose their snacks from healthy
choices you keep on hand.
Establishing and maintaining healthy habits is one of the best gifts you can give to your children. You will be teaching them to make the healthiest choice, which will impact their health for a lifetime.
Last update: Tuesday, May 05, 2009