Childhood obesity and weight has skyrocketed since the 1970’s
Children in the United States are suffering from preventable diseases that shouldn’t effect kids. Currently almost 20% of children in the United States are obese and 31% of children are either overweight or obese. Type 2 diabetes was almost unheard of before the 1980’s. In a recent study looking at children from 2002-2012, type 2 diabetes increased by nearly 5%… EACH YEAR. Pediatric Metabolic Syndrome, which shows insulin resistance, higher triglycerides, and hypertension is present in nearly half of obese children. Hip and knee pain, Poly-Cystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), and sleep apnea are all issues that our children are facing because their weight (1).
Since the 1970’s, the obesity rate of children has tripled. What has changed? Many will point to video games and televisions causing children to be less active. It is true that kids are not playing outside as much as they used to. Studies show that children are playing outside half the time as their parents (2). Studies show that children currently play around 4 hours a week outside. How many calories a week does children burn by playing outside? It is estimated that children are not burning approximately 200-800 calories by not playing outside.
Would not playing outside have a drastic effect on weight? Let’s say on average children are not burning 500 extra calories a week due to not playing outside as much. 500 calories a week, for an entire year would average to about 7.5 pounds of weight gained over the entire year. Although this does have a factor in the weight gain of children, 7.5 pounds isn’t the difference between obese and fit.
It’s Food… and Soda!
For adults and children alike, food is the biggest obstacle when it comes to weight. There are several studies showing that food is the biggest culprit to weight gain among children.
In a study between 1977 and 2006 associated with “snacking” among youth, the average American child in 2006 has 1 extra snack a day, plus each snack has approximately 50 more calories per serving. This equates to an extra 150-200 calories per day. Using the same analysis as above, this would equate to an extra 21 pounds per year in weight gain (3)!
Sodas are also a key issue with children obesity. Just since 1989, children has increased their consumption of sugary soda by 60%. The average child now consumes 209 calories per day in soda. A study also showed that for each additional 12 ounce soda consumed by a child would raise the chance of obesity by 60% within 1.5 years (4).
Food portions have risen by between 2 and 3 times over the last 20 years. Children and adults are eating far more food than their bodies need. Some of the most popular foods have “blown up” over the years. The average size of hamburgers, french fries, and sodas have increased by 2-5 times since they were introduced. Many families are also eating out instead of cooking home-cooked meals (5).
What’s the Answer?
It’s never too early, or too late to teach healthy habits. It is also important for your teenagers to understand that decisions they make today with their health will impact them later.
Here are some tips:
- Cardiovascular activity is perfect for all ages (hiking, biking, playing outside).
- Working out with weights should be approved by doctor, but typically okay for boys and girls 15 and older.
- Fruits and veggies are better snacks than processed snacks (chips, cookies, cakes, etc.)
- If your child seems to be gaining weight, watch what they eat for a day and keep a food journal to count calories. This will help you better understand the extent of the issue.
- Water is the most underutilized option for children. None are drinking enough.
- Juice isn’t as healthy as you think it is.
- No Fat Burners or other supplements for children
- Protein shakes are okay for children (they are food, not a supplement in my opinion). Whole food is always better though!
- Do not wait until it is too late. If you do not know what to say, or what to do to help your child, talk to a professional!
- Here are some great at home workouts for you and your kids!
Questions or Comments?
Email me at nutritiontrain @ Yahoo.com
Thank you for reading!
NASM Weight Loss Specialist and Personal Trainer
Diet Hack- Level-1 Protein Review
- Diseases Associated with Childhood Obesityhttps://www.ajronline.org/doi/full/10.2214/AJR.06.0651
- Children spend half the time playing outside in comparison to their parents https://www.childinthecity.org/2018/01/15/children-spend-half-the-time-playing-outside-in-comparison-to-their-parents/?gdpr=accept
- Trends in Snacking Among Children https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2837536/
- Sugary Drinks and Obesity Fact Sheet https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/sugary-drinks-fact-sheet/
- The Contribution of Expanding Portion Sizes to the US Obesity Epidemichttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1447051/