So here’s a headline you may be surprised to see: U.S. child obesity rates are dropping.
Sadly, this statistic only applies to 2- to 4-year-olds. Of course, that’s a great start. If we can delay the onset of obesity, maybe we can really start preventing it.
The CDC reports childhood obesity rates increased in only three states between 2008 and 2011: Colorado, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania. Rates stayed the same in 21 states and decreased in 19 states. (If you’re doing the math in your head, they researched only 43 states.) The states that had the lowest decrease included Florida, Georgia, Missouri, New Jersey, and South Dakota.
This may not seem like a huge thing, but when the words “obesity epidemic” have been plastered all over the news and medical reports for years and years, even a slight decline is monumental. Overweight kids between ages 3 to 5 are five times more likely to be overweight or obese when they grow up, according to the CDC. Currently, 1 out of 8 preschoolers are obese. That’s frightening. I’ll take a small drop in that statistic. Now we just need to make sure we keep heading in that direction and don’t lose ground.
The CDC reports it is helping states in their efforts to fight childhood obesity by providing information on how to do it. They suggest making it easier for families to buy local foods and beverages that are healthy and affordable. They’re also urging schools to keep their gyms, fields, and playgrounds open even when school isn’t in session so kids can have access to places where they can exercise.
Many of the states that have seen an decrease in childhood obesity rates have implemented similar measures, showing it can be an effective strategy. Hopefully other states can begin to follow in their success and let us final take a step up in this downward fight against obesity.
While these may sound like small efforts, they add up to make a big impact. My 19-month-old is already in the “at risk of overweight” category. I’m not worried at this age, but that doesn’t mean I’m not trying to help him develop fitness and healthy eating habits! Here are some of the things we do:
- We walk whenever possible, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator! He loves being free and gets exercise at the same time.
- Eat lots of fruits and veggies. Even if he doesn’t always want to eat them, I try to serve a fruit or veggie with every meal. If you have older kids, prepare 2 veggies for dinner and ask them which one they want, not if they want one.
- Get a good night’s sleep. My son and I both go to bed at the same time every night to make sure we’re well rested and have energy to be active the next day.
- Drink water. A lot of kids get tons of calories from juice and soda. Simply switching to water is an easy way to make a big difference in your health and weight. If water is too bland, try letting your child pick a fruit to put in the pitcher.
What do you do to help fight childhood obesity at home?