Thursday, August 23, 2012

Childhood Obesity

It is no secret that obesity rates in the United States are soaring, especially in our children. According to the National Childhood Obesity Month website, more than 23 million children and teenagers in the United States ages 2 to 19 are obese or overweight.  This is a statistic that health and medical experts consider an epidemic.  And this epidemic puts nearly one third of America’s children at early risk for Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and even heart disease.

The causes of obesity are complex. They include genetic, metabolic, behavioral, environmental, cultural and socioeconomic factors.  Colorado communities with the highest rates of obesity face limited access to healthy and affordable foods, recreational facilities, safe neighborhoods and preventive health care.  These conditions make it difficult for healthy eating and physical activity to be easy choices for all Coloradans in the places where they live, learn, work and play. 

Families can help prevent Childhood Obesity by:

·         Breastfeeding- The risk of childhood obesity is one-third greater for children who never have been breastfed compared to children who have been breastfed.
  • Make healthy personal food choices and be a positive role model for your children.
·         Practice healthy eating habits early, including at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily and 6 servings of grains daily (including whole grains).  Avoid keeping high-fat foods, such as sweetened drinks and high-calorie snacks in the house.
·         Require at least one hour of physical activity each day.
·         Reduce time engaged in sedentary activities.  Limit screen time (computer or TV) to less than two hours per day.

Jefferson County PublicHealth, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and its public health partners are supporting proven and promising strategies to fight the obesity battle including: 

  • Promoting best practices for schools to provide daily physical activity for students, adopt nutrition guidelines and partner with local farmers to serve fresh produce in school meals
  • Encouraging health care professionals to adopt Colorado Adult and Childhood Obesity Guidelines to provide healthy lifestyle advice to their patients
  • Partnering with communities to design streets and neighborhoods to include bike paths and sidewalks and convenient linkages to parks, schools, grocery stores and community gathering places
  • Supporting communities in developing community gardens, sponsoring affordable healthy-cooking and exercise classes, and offering team sports opportunities for people of all ages
  • Providing businesses with tools for creating incentives and welcoming environments for employees to be healthy and physically active
·         Livewell Colorado

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