As a parent, keeping your child healthy is a top priority, and that means helping your child develop healthy eating and exercise habits that can last a lifetime. Unfortunately, childhood obesity has been a serious problem in the United States for decades, and the most recent analysis of federal data indicates that it is currently on the rise. Over the course of the last few years, all of the experts in the field — from public health researchers to healthcare providers to government policymakers — thought that childhood obesity was finally on the decline. Studies were suggesting that there was a downward trend in childhood obesity, which suggested that efforts to improve nutrition and promote physical activity among children were working. However, a group of researchers from Duke University and Wake Forest University recently published a study reporting that the overall trend in childhood obesity is actually on the upswing. Read on to learn more about the research, its implications, and how you can use the information to support the health of your family.
The Key Findings of the Study on Childhood Obesity
The latest paper was published in the journal Pediatrics in March 2018, and it offers key insight into child obesity trends for the last two decades. For this paper, the researchers analyzed federal data for children between the ages of 2 and 19 from 1999 to 2016. They determined that, in general, there was a “positive linear trend” in childhood obesity in the United States. That increase was particularly significant for adolescents, but there was also a notable spike in the incidence of obesity among children between the ages of 2 and 5 from 2015 to 2016.
In addition, the researchers sought to understand the racial and gender breakdown of childhood obesity. While the increasing trend in childhood obesity was significant for children of all races and genders, the researchers found that the risk of was higher for certain populations. Specifically, the risk was particularly significant for children in the African American and Hispanic/Latino communities, while it was slightly less prominent for white and Asian American children. Notably, there was a spike in severe obesity among non-Hispanic African American children in the last few years. On the long-term scale, the increasing trend in childhood obesity was most prominent for Hispanic/Latina females.
Looking at this data, it is clear that taking action to protect our children is essential. Obesity during childhood often leads to obesity during adulthood, and it significantly increases a child’s risk for developing long-term cardiovascular problems and metabolic disorders. Now that we know that earlier data suggesting a decline in childhood obesity was inaccurate, we need to do everything we can
Recognizing National Nutrition Month: A Family Affair
Conveniently enough, the timing of the publication of this study coincided with National Nutrition Month, which is recognized–and celebrated!–during the month of March. Even though the results of this study are sobering, making changes to keep your kids healthy can be fun and empowering. Here are a few key steps you can take today to help your children develop healthy dietary habits that can prevent (or address) childhood obesity and stay with them when they grow up.
- Model healthy eating habits. Studies have shown that when it comes to eating behaviors, kids take cues from their parents, so it is important for parents to act as positive role models. That can be a major challenge if you struggle with your own weight or if you’ve never really gotten into healthy eating yourself. However, watching a parent yo-yo between weight loss diets or skip meals because they are too busy with work can potentially have a negative impact on a child, so you may want to seek advice from a nutritional counselor. Practitioners who offer nutritional counseling, like chiropractors, can help you improve your eating habits in ways that benefit both you and your children.
- Stock your shelves with nutrient-dense foods. It’s best not to label certain foods “good” and others “bad,” but it’s also important to let kids know that foods like cookies and cakes are treats for special occasions. For everyday meals and snacks, keep items like sliced apples, baby carrots, whole-grain bread, and low-fat yogurt readily available. Also, just because a food is healthy doesn’t mean it isn’t a treat. When you bring home a new vegetable from the grocery store for dinner, like kale or colorful bell peppers, celebrate the opportunity to get excited about trying something new!
- Start cooking as a family. Not only is cooking a great way to spend quality time with your kids, it can also help them build an appreciation for healthy eating. Plus, as many adults know, excellent cooking skills aren’t easy to come by, so it can help to get started early! Young children can “help” by mixing ingredients and reading out recipes, while older kids and teenagers can start learning how to chop, steam, and broil their way to a delicious meal!
Atlanta Chiropractic and Wellness is here to support your family’s nutritional needs. Our chiropractors provide nutritional counseling, and we offer a wide array of dietary supplements that can help boost your health. Contact us today for more information!