Overweight children as young as 7 years old have high blood pressure and damaged arteries, and area at high risk for developing diabetes, so say Italian and American researchers.
A new study of 100 overweight children, ranging from 6 to 14 years old, found that children who are overweight have many health risks that could seriously impact their adulthood — even increasing their risk of an early death. The most startling revelation was that even the youngest children studied showed signs of artery disease.
According to recent studies, approximately 15% of U.S. children are overweight and an additional 15% are at risk for being overweight.
What to do if your child is overweight
While some parents may shrug off their children’s weight issues as “baby fat,” the fact is that the number of overweight children in the United States is on the rise, and being overweight affects your child’s health. Below are some tips to get your entire family back into a health frame of mind.
• Take action . . . now! Talk with your child’s pediatrician and your pharmacist to make sure that your child is growing at a health rate for his or her age and height and what actions you can take if your child is overweight.
• Be a role model. If your dietary choices are not healthy, chances are that neither are your children’s. Discuss healthy meal planning with your child’s pediatrician and your pharmacist.
• Turn off the TV, computer and Xbox. Instead, use the extra hour before dinner to enjoy exercising as a family. Take bike rides or play soccer together in the backyard or local park.
• Don’t force your children to engage in group activities, like joining the school’s basketball team or cheerleading squad, that they’re uncomfortable with or embarrassed to join, instead, encourage them to participate in activities that they want to do.
• Remove the word “diet” from your vocabulary. Children have special nutritional needs, and a restrictive diet can harm your child’s growth and development.
• Be supportive. Your child may be very sensitive about his or her appearance.
• Don’t use food as a punishment or a reward.
• Find support. Ask your child’s pediatrician about talking to a registered dietitian.
• Finally, be patient. Reversing bad eating habits take time and requires a continued effort. Keep a positive, encouraging attitude about his new lifestyle change. Your children will thank you — if not now, then when they are healthy and happy adults.