September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

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Obesity is a serious health concern for children and adolescents. Results from the 2007-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), using measured heights and weights, indicate that an estimated 17 percent of children and adolescents ages 2-19 years are obese.

Among pre-school age children 2-5 years of age, obesity increased from 5 to 10.4% between 1976-1980 and 2007-2008 and from 6.5 to 19.6% among 6-11 year olds.

Obese children and adolescents are at risk for health problems during their youth and as adults. For example, during their youth, obese children and adolescents are more likely to have risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease (such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and Type 2 diabetes) than are other children and adolescents. Obese children and adolescents are also more likely to become obese adults.

To help prevent obesity in your children and the children in your care:

Encourage healthy eating habits.
• Provide plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole-grain products.
• Include low-fat or non-fat milk or dairy products.
• Choose lean meats, poultry, fish, lentils, and beans for protein.
• Serve reasonably-sized portions.
• Encourage your family to drink lots of water.
• Limit sugar-sweetened beverages.
• Limit consumption of sugar and saturated fat.

Help kids stay active.
Children and teens should participate in at least 60 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity most days of the week, preferably daily.. Remember that children imitate adults. Start adding physical activity to your own daily routine and encourage your child to join you.

Some examples of moderate intensity physical activity include:
• Brisk walking
• Playing tag
• Jumping rope
• Playing soccer
• Swimming
• Dancing

The mission of National Childhood Obesity Month is to prevent childhood obesity and decrease its prevalence in the US. You can do your part by encouraging your children or the children in your care to eat healthy and stay active.

Adapted from The Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

To read more, visit http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/childhood/index.html and http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/children/index.html.

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