Obesity in kids is widespread   

Obesity in kids is widespread


Ask a parent to name the greatest health threat to children and you'll hear about drinking or drugs. Rarely will anyone cite obesity-even though it can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes.

It's at least as great a risk as smoking, If not greater.

And it's rampant. One child in 5 is overweight, according to the National Institutes of Health. Kids are more than twice as likely to be overweight today than kids were 30 years ago.

Researchers place much of the blame on fast food and a sedentary childhood.

Kids today spend an increasing amount of time watching TV, playing video games or sitting at the computer. Schools have cut back or eliminated physical education classes in favor of more academic subjects.

Busy families often let nutrition slide, as they rely on fast-food meals and junk-food snacks.

Obesity largely stems from a combination of poor eating and exercise habits, so both must be addressed.
Foundations developed in the early years to determine whether you choose a healthy lifestyle later on.

Here's what you can do about it:
• Set realistic goals. Talk to your pediatrician or family doctor about healthy ways for your child to lose weight.
• Offer healthful snack alternatives. Keep fresh fruit on hand instead of chips.
• Teach moderation. One cookie-not eight-is OK. Don't order your child a super-size fast-food meal.
• Get your child moving. Exercise as a family and encourage your child to be active every day. Build up to 30 minutes of Vigorous activity every day.
• Change habits. Just switching to skim milk can help.
• Start early. About 40 percent of overweight children stay fat as adults. The ratio rises to 75 percent for adolescents.
• Set an example. As a parent, are you eating right and exercising?

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