With one out of every four Canadian children considered overweight or obese, the problem of childhood obesity is a growing concern in our society.
Poor eating habits and a sedentary life style are two important factors that can contribute to a child’s weight. There’s a predominance of fast food restaurants in our lives that help make meal times quick and easy, while junk food is readily available for a go-to snack. Kids are spending large amounts of their time on computers or in front of the TV screens while less of their time is spent getting the physical exercise they need. Is it any wonder that childhood obesity is a problem?
How big of a problem is it?
For the answer, we just need to look at the reports:
- According to the Childhood Obesity Foundation, obesity in children has almost tripled in the last quarter-century, with appoximately 26 per cent of Canadian children now considered overweight or obese.
- An article on the Informa Healthcare website concludes that childhood obesity is an increasing global concern, especially in economically developed nations.
- According to a report from the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, an overweight child is at risk for developing several health problems. They include, but are not limited to, hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and sleep apnea.
- A Statistics Canada report tells us that obese children are more likely than their normal-weight peers to have specific health problems and that these may lead to further health issues as adults.
- It’s not only the physical health that suffers, as the NYU Child Study Center reports: there are mental health concerns as well. Obesity-related concerns such as being teased and having problems playing sports are negatively linked to a child’s sense of well-being and quality of life. Overweight Teen suggests that obese children and teens often suffer from some of the psychological effects of being overweight, such as being depressed or having low self-esteem, which could in turn lead to behaviour problems.
What does this mean?
With 25 per cent of our children fitting into the obese category, it’s time to take action. Childhood obesity is a a complex problem that should be addressed on many levels, from public awareness campaigns to government initiatives; but the real key lies in the home. By teaching children to make healthy food choices and encouraging them to live an active lifestyle, we can help ensure that our next generation will live long, healthy lives.