Would you be surprised to know that 1 in 4 children in the U.S. is considered obese? So statistically speaking, if you have four children, one would be obese. How can you know for sure? During your child’s yearly physical his or her height and weight are taken. Something called body mass index (BMI) is determined by height and weight measurements. That information is plotted on a growth chart that shows how your child’s height, weight and BMI compares with children of the same age.
Why are we worried about childhood obesity? Because we know that if a child’s BMI is greater than 95 percent for age and gender, it increases the risk of certain complications. Those complications may include high cholesterol, high insulin levels, bone and joint problems and more. Long-term effects of these problems can lead to heart disease, type 2 diabetes and other chronic health issues.
Are you worried yet?
So, what can you do? Talk to your child’s pediatrician if you have concerns about your child’s growth. Children’s Health Education Center provides good habits to support a healthy BMI through a program called 3 2 1 0 Blast Off to a Healthier Family. Every child, regardless of weight, can benefit from this program. It includes:
- Three meals a day. Regular, well-balanced meals helps the body use energy more efficiently.
- Two hours or less of sedentary (sitting in front of a screen) activity. Sitting more makes you burn fewer calories. What do you do in front of a TV? Eat, of course.
- One hour of physical activity a day. Getting your heart rate up helps to burn calories and build good muscles.
- Zero sweetened beverages. Lots of extra sugar and calories are hidden in flavored milks, juices and other drinks. It is nutritionally better to eat the fruit than drink the juice.
- Family – Sit down to a table or a counter to eat with the TV off. This will help you enjoy and remember what you are eating. Plus, family time helps you keep up with what your kids are doing.
As parents, we can be great role models for our children. I encourage you to do all of these things with them.
For your child’s BMI and more information on BMI, ask your pediatric primary care provider. Also visit:
Parents, I invite you to post a comment and share how you support good habits with your children.
~ Denise M. Kilway, MSN, RN, CPNP, certified pediatric nurse practitioner, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin