GALVESTON COUNTY, Texas – About one in six children in the United States is considered to be obese. That’s nearly 20 percent of all adolescents and is the highest rate ever recorded.
A 2017 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report states that one in five adolescents ages 12-19, one in five children ages 6-11 and one in 10 preschoolers ages 2-5 are considered obese.
September marks National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month and provides a chance to learn more about this serious health condition.
“The rate of obesity in children is very alarming and it’s growing,” said Eileen Dawley, Galveston County Health District (GCHD) chief nursing officer. “Childhood obesity is a public health problem and can lead to all sorts of health issues now and down the road.”
Obese children are at a higher risk for having chronic health conditions and diseases including asthma, sleep apnea, bone and joint problems and type 2 diabetes, as well as having more at-risk factors for heart disease like high blood pressure and high cholesterol, according to the CDC.
Children who are overweight or obese as preschoolers are five times as likely as normal-weight children to be overweight or obese as adults.
“As an adult, obesity can lead to a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer,” Dawley said. “Childhood obesity is also linked to a higher chance of early death in adulthood.”
There are several factors that may lead to childhood obesity: too much time spent being inactive; lack of sleep; lack of places to go to get physical activity; easy access to inexpensive, high calorie foods and sugary beverages; and lack of access to affordable, healthier foods.
“There are ways parents can help prevent obesity in their children,” Dawley said. “Choose nutritious meals with fruits and veggies and encourage your children to drink more water as a no-calorie alternative. Find activities you enjoy as a family and be physically active with your children.”
When it comes to meals, provide vegetables, fruits and whole-grain products. Choose lean meals like poultry, fish, lentils
and beans for protein and remember portion size. The idea, according to the CDC, is to balance the calories your child consumes from foods and beverages with the calories they use through physical activity and growth.
And, don’t forget to be a role model. Choose healthy meals and snacks and set an example for children.
“Small changes can make a big difference. Working together, we can all do our part to prevent childhood obesity,” Dawley said.
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The Galveston County Health District (GCHD) is the local public health agency for Galveston County, Texas.
GCHD provides services and programs that protect the everyday health and well-being of Galveston County.
P.O. Box 939 La Marque, Texas 77568 • (409) 938-7221