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Childhood obesity costing $19,000 per child

With the costs of healthcare skyrocketing and childhood obesity rates increasing it makes sense medical health experts are looking at ways to shrink both. According to a recent study, nearly 17% of children are currently obese, costing about $19,000 over the lifetime of the child, not to mention the increased risk of chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and other disabilities.


Price tag of obesity for children is $19,000 per child


 

So if we know the consequences of childhood obesity both financially and physically are too high for inaction on the issue of childhood obesity, what are we to do? Most experts point first to the family unit. Parents are first and foremost responsible for ensuring they rear a generation of children who are healthier. But what if parents fail to do their jobs?

Experts suggest schools can take more of an active role in providing increased access to physical activity and healthier school lunches. For this to happen, however, educators will have to put emphasis on the physical body as well as the mind. Stop cutting recess times and increase the requirements for physical education at all levels, not just in elementary schools.

What about school lunches? There’s been increased criticism that some of the healthy changes, while filled with good intentions, have not been as successful as many would have liked, with reports of an increase number of fruits and vegetables simply being discarded by children, not eaten. What do we do? We don’t stop trying. We make changes and try something new.

There are a number of innovative efforts that have been embraced by educators to combat childhood obesity, but unfortunately, there is only so much a school can do. Parents must model good behavior, including eating a balanced diet and incorporating fun exercise into the family’s daily activities. For instance, families need to encourage children to eat balanced meals and do fun things as a family. Go to the park and play football or basketball. Take a walk around the neighborhood. Swim at the pool or join a gym.

Intervention must start early for childhood obesity


 

We also know that intervention and habits must start at an early age to successfully tackle childhood obesity. With 12 million children in child care in the U.S., early care is critical to establishing healthy patterns that a child can carry through to adulthood. Limit sweets, especially sodas. Think back to your childhood. Most of us were lucky if we had a soda one time per week. Now it’s not unusual for many children to drink several per day. Why not substitute water instead?

It’s also time to encourage kids to play. Turn off the television and make your kids go outside. We all know it’s easier to turn on the television and allow your kids to remain sedentary, but eating an unhealthy diet combined with no physical movement will definitely lead to childhood obesity and a lifetime of unhealthy conditions.

So what’s the bottom line? You cannot simply rely on the schools to do your work. Lead by example. If your children see you making great food and activity choices they are more likely to make them too. I have been exercising for years and my daughter just this week ask me if she and I can walk every evening after dinner. It’s a small step, but it’s a step.
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