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Obesity and Unhealthy Eating
Your child’s plump little legs may have been cute when he or she was a baby, but, as your child grows, holding onto “baby fat” can signal real problems ahead. Since the 1970s, the number of overweight and obese children of all ages has sharply increased. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), weight status is measured by Body Mass Index (BMI):
Why Are Our Children Obese?
Several changes in the way we live contribute to childhood obesity. Children’s physical activity has markedly decreased, and their more sedentary activities, such as watching TV and playing video and computer games, have increased. We also eat food prepared away from home much more often, and many restaurants serve increasingly larger portions of food (See Building Blocks’ “Portion Distortion”).
When we eat food that is high in fat and sugar and do not engage in physical activity, we are taking in more energy than we are putting out. Our bodies then store all that extra energy as fat. Children who eat large portions of food or eat foods high in calories may not be taking in the nutritional value needed for healthy growth. Many of these foods (and beverages) are convenient or easy to find, and children think of them as “fun.” But a diet of foods high in fat, salt, and/or sugar content has significant health risks that can begin at a very young age.
How Does Unhealthy Food Affect Our Children?
A steady diet of unhealthy food increases a child’s caloric intake while it decreases nutritional intake. Children who eat a lot of junk foods are not eating enough fruits and vegetables and not drinking enough milk, which are all necessary for a healthy diet. And, says CDC, obese youth are more likely than youth of normal weight to become overweight or obese adults and, therefore, more at risk for associated adult health problems. Obesity can lead to a host of other medical problems as well as feelings of social isolation.
Updated on 3/21/2012