There are an estimated 23 million obese or overweight children in the United States and this number continues to rise each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) the prevalence of childhood obesity has more than tripled since 1980, and the resulting chronic health challenges that come along with obesity are also increasing – type 2 diabetes, several types of cancers, heart disease, stroke, and more. Internationally we see much of the same, with the World Health Organization noting that nearly 43 million children under the age of five were overweight in 2010.
In order for future generations grow into a healthy and prosperous population it is imperative that something be done to address the high rate of childhood obesity.
This September marks the second annual National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. As America’s youth start another school year and embark on new challenges in the classroom, there couldn’t be a better time to take advantage of opportunities to change behaviors and environments and to encourage America’s children to value their health and wellness and to embrace physical activity. Behavioral and environmental changes are the most effective ways to reverse this debilitating trend and prevent obesity and its costly consequences.
Over the summer the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released Early Childhood Obesity Prevention Policies which sets for recommendations for ways in which all of the influencers in our children’s lives and futures – caregivers, healthcare professionals and policy makers – can affect positive health and wellness in sustainable ways.
Even small steps can make a big difference, especially when it comes to the dietary choices that adults are making for themselves and their children. A recent CDC study on the consumption of sugar drinks found that approximately one half of the American population consumes one or more sugary beverages a day. Guiding well-balanced food and beverage choices for children and providing them with healthy options is an important step in preventing childhood obesity and all of the chronic diseases that it can cause.
The Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease encourages you to make at least once positive change in your life this September that will make a difference in the fight against childhood obesity.