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Take Steps to Prevent Obesity

Take Steps to Prevent Obesity

March 20, 2014

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, America’s kids are battling a severe obesity epidemic that costs the nation $147 billion every year. And obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the last three decades. In 2010, more than one third of all young people below the age of 19 were overweight or obese.

Obviously the costs are a lot more than financial. The consequences of childhood obesity can rival the health effects of exposure to many toxins. Obese children face a greater risk of type 2 diabetes and are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, asthma, joint and musculoskeletal problems, liver disease, gallstones, and esophageal reflux. Obese children are also more likely to be severely obese as adults and face illnesses like heart disease and cancer.

Here are some ways to help prevent child obesity. Diet plays a big role, but there are environmental triggers, too.

  • Reduce your family’s exposure to phthalates. Emerging evidence suggests that exposure to these chemicals may lead to higher rates of childhood obesity.
  • Similarly, reduce your family’s contact with BPA , another toxin implicated in the obesity epidemic.
  • Don’t use pesticides. They may also have some relationship to the increasing incidence of obesity.
  • Avoid processed foods, which are typically loaded with obesity contributors like refined sugars and flours, and saturated or trans fats.
  • Serve at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Encourage them as choices for snacks instead of cookies, candy, chips, and other junk foods.
  • Choose whole grain products like brown rice, whole wheat breads, and whole grain crackers.
  • Keep a pitcher of water on ice in the refrigerator and use it as a thirst quencher instead of soda, juice, and other high-sugar beverages.
  • Limit TV and computer time (experts recommend no more than two daily hours) and promote outdoor play and other physical activities instead. An hour of activity a day will generally maintain weight. More than an hour will help kids lose it.
  • Be a good role model by eating right and exercising yourself