September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

  • Published
  • By Stuart Bapties
  • Robins Health and Wellness Center director

Childhood obesity is a serious medical condition that affects children and adolescents. It occurs when a child is well above the normal weight for his or her age and height. 

The number of people affected by obesity has risen rapidly during the past 30 years and has led the   World Health Organization to proclaim obesity as a global epidemic.  

Our children haven’t escaped it.  

The obesity rate in America has doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents during this time and according to the Centers for Disease Control, one in six children in America is obese and more likely to become obese adults. 

Obese children are more likely to have pre-diabetes, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, asthma, and are at an increased risk of developing sleep apnea, bone and joint problems.  

The CDC estimates that one of three children born in 2000 or later will suffer from Type 2 diabetes at some time in their lives if these trends aren’t reversed. 

When we factor in overweight, nearly one in three children in the U.S. are overweight or obese and have been shown to have lower self-esteem, miss more school days and have poorer academic outcomes than their normal-weight peers. 

Georgia’s current obesity rate for children ages 10 to 17 is 16.5 percent, and for 2- to 4-year olds it is 13.2 percent.

To address the issue on base, the Robins Health and Wellness Center has teamed up with the 78th Medical Group Pediatric Flight to offer the CATCH Kids Program during school holidays and at special events throughout the community. CATCH Kids stands for Coordinated Approach to Child Health, and is the most proven program to help prevent childhood obesity by encouraging kids and communities to adopt healthier lifestyles. 

So what’s going on? Fast food consumption and a lack of physical activity are just a couple of the causes of childhood obesity. Other things contributing to the increase in childhood obesity include: increased consumption of foods high in sugar and fat, increased consumption of sugary beverages, increased screen time at televisions and smart devices and increased time engaged in other sedentary activities. 

A great way to help ensure your child stays healthy and stave off obesity is to teach and encourage the Healthy Life Countdown while setting a good example and following it with them. The Healthy Life Countdown targets how we live, work and play and provides tips on how you can incorporate the principles into your family’s lives to impact the health of all family members.

It helps focus on the areas that affect obesity and encourages children to do the following every day:

* Eat five or more servings of fresh fruits and veggies.

* Drink at least four glasses of water.

* Have at least three good laughs a day.

* Limit screen time to two hours or less. 

* Engage in at least one hour of physical activity.

*Drink zero cups of soda or sugar-sweetened drinks.


What else can you do to help your child adopt the countdown? 

*Offer new fruits and vegetables and encourage your child to take at least three bites.  

*Visit the local farmers market and let your child sample fruits in season when they taste best.

*Keep the TV and video games out of your child’s bedroom and encourage them to use their own imagination while playing and to be physically active.  

*Take a family walk after dinner.

*Encourage your child to drink more water or low fat milk. 

*If you are allowing treats from vending machines, limit the treat to the labeled “Fit Pick” selections.

*Discuss treatment or lifestyle changes with your child’s medical provider if he or she is obese.