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Home / Articles / Columnists / Fitness by Larisa /  Childhood Obesity
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Thursday, February 8,2018

Childhood Obesity

By Larisa Klein  

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, a child is considered obese if his body mass index is above the 95th percentile of children of the same age and sex. Obese children often have high cholesterol and blood pressure putting them at risk for cardiovascular disease, breathing and joint problems, and may also develop psychological problems such as low selfesteem. They are also often discriminated against. Usually, obese children become obese adults and develop diseases associated with excess weight such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and even cancer.1 

It is tempting to say that children become obese as a result of excessive eating, eating unhealthy foods, and lack of activity. However, one cannot blame a child for eating foods which taste as delicious as junk food does; they don’t know any better. Parents must be responsible for what they feed their children. So while it may be soda and processed foods that provide the excess calories, it is parents who bring them into the house. Similarly, it is parents who allow the children to be inactive, which contributes to obesity.

It is important that parents avoid processed foods, sugary foods and drinks, especially for young children. Once kids develop a taste for these foods (which is pretty much immediately) it will be very difficult to get them to eat natural foods. Water, fruit and vegetables are best for children and adults alike. Similarly, a child who develops a taste for healthy foods will rarely seek out or enjoy foods which are heavy in sugar, fats or salt. In addition, developing habits of daily exercise will also prevent children from getting too heavy, as well as helping them continue the habit into adulthood. Whether it is in the form of playing or joining a sport, activity is a necessary part of keeping a healthy weight.

While it is best to prevent obesity, once there a healthy diet, an exercise regimen should be implemented. Healthy diets should not employ strict low-calorie and low-nutrient diets, but should encourage portion control of natural foods. Tastes take a while to adjust but they eventually do. Similarly, getting an inactive child to move may be unpleasant initially, but once they get used to it they will resist it less.

Unfortunately, Florida does not have any CDC-sponsored special programs for children. But this organization does suggest methods which can be employed by states to encourage childhood activity, and provides strategies to increase produce consumption. In addition, it offers ways of producing safe communities conducive to physical activity and describes how to make healthy foods and drinks more available.2 In addition to parents’ involvement, schools should also become more proactive to ensure children’s health. Their education should include early education about why they should eat healthier foods and keep their weight down. Cafeteria food should be healthy and avoid fried foods loaded with sugar, fat and salt; healthy foods can be tasty too. Last but not least, recess should be at least an hour long and teachers should ensure that children are playing.

While the rates of obesity are on the decline, we are still a long way from being there. Health requires vigilance and should start with teaching our children the benefits of movement and of eating natural foods.

References Childhood Obesity (2012). Retrieved 4/10/2014 from

Larisa Klein • Wellness Achieved Studios • 3000 E Commercial Blvd., Ft. Lauderdale, Fl. 33308 • • 954-600-9828 Larisa has been training in Yoga, Pilates, and functional weight training for 20 years since. 1997. She has extensive experience working with cancer survivors, people with various physical special conditions (joint/spinal injuries/operations/replacements/MS/etc.), internal special conditions (schizophrenia, drug/alcohol addictions) as well as triatheletes and Olympians. She is a black belt with full competition experience, a current practitioner of Kung Fu, and has an MA in Mathematics and a second BS in Alternative Medicine.

PMAŽ Certified Pilates Teacher. Yoga. Coaching.


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