Childhood obesity is a serious public health issue that compromises the wellness of the next generation. National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, which takes place in September, strives to raise awareness about the epidemic of obesity among U.S. children. At Sunrise Children’s Hospital, our specialists in pediatrics encourage our neighbors throughout Las Vegas to become informed of the solutions for preventing and treating childhood obesity.
The Facts and Stats About Childhood Obesity
During the past three decades, the incidence of obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in teens. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), seven percent of children ages six through 11 in the U.S. were obese in 1980. By 2012, that statistic had risen to almost 18%. Adolescents have been similarly affected. In 1980, the percentage of adolescents aged 12 through 19 years was at just five percent; by 2012, that statistic had risen to 21%. Children who are overweight or obese are at a significantly higher risk of short-term and long-term health consequences. In childhood and adolescence, these individuals may be diagnosed with high cholesterol, high blood pressure, prediabetes, bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and psychological issues. Later in life, these individuals display a higher risk of heart disease, stroke, certain cancers, osteoarthritis, and type 2 diabetes.
The Role of Parents in Preventing Obesity
Parents play an integral role in preventing childhood obesity, since parents are typically responsible for purchasing groceries, preparing meals, and setting house rules. Parents also set an example for their children. Kids who see their parents making healthy lifestyle choices are more likely to follow suit and vice versa.
The Responsibilities of Communities
The bulk of the work of preventing childhood obesity is done at home, but communities also play a role. Community leaders can advocate for “walkable” neighborhoods and work to eliminate food deserts, which limit families’ abilities to obtain fresh, healthy foods. Similarly, schools can implement nutrition education programs and offer healthy choices in cafeterias.
Here at Sunrise Children’s Hospital , our pediatric clinical dietitians are available to provide nutritional information and wellness education for families in the greater Las Vegas area. Our children’s hospital is also a leading provider of high-risk pregnancy care and children’s emergency care. You can reach a registered nurse by calling (702) 233-5437.