I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough July 11 to read in the health section a story about the urgency of fighting childhood obesity.
There were a lot of statistical data in the story, much of it overwhelming and deep in the weeds. Quite simply, about one in three American kids and teens are overweight or obese — nearly triple the rate in 1963. Child obesity has quickly become one of the most serious health challenges of the 21st century. Ask any pediatrician.
More often than not, obesity is the result of a flawed lifestyle. Although genetics can be a factor, it is more common now for children to be obese or overweight because of environmental and behavioral factors.
This is what I know from my 15 years being involved in this serious and sad issue: Only 2 percent of American children eat a heathy diet. Childhood obesity could reduce life expectancy five or more years, but if you’re 335 pounds at 16, chances are it’s far more. And this is a real life case at Louie’s Kids.
At least 25 percent of kids don’t participate in free time physical activity. Kids who are overweight or obese miss more school, they watch more television, snack more than others to the tune of 300-plus calories per day. Seventy percent of overweight or obese kids have at least one risk factor for heart disease, half of these kids will develop type 2 diabetes.
It’s that serious. What I also know for sure as the founder of the childhood obesity non-profit Louie’s Kids, is we are most successful with weight loss when the family works together.
Our after-school programs involving children alone got results, but when a family approaches their child’s weight loss as a team, the effects are tremendously successful, as we’re demonstrating in our family programs every week. There’s not much a child can do completely on his or her own.
But there’s not much a family can’t accomplish when they do it together.
Isle of Palms