Childhood Obesity… It's About Health Not Appearance


Childhood Obesity is a topic discussed in the news, on TV and maybe even in your own home. It is a serious health problem that is leading to Type II Diabetes and Heart Disease in younger and younger kids. Body Mass Index, or BMI is used to determine obesity. For children, it is based on height and weight, as well as sex and age. If your child’s weight exceeds the standard norms set by the CDC, or Centers for Disease Control, obesity may be a problem.  However, there are other factors to consider besides the numbers on a chart. Bone structure, body type and growth pattern also play a role.  Before you get too worried, talk to your child’s health care professional. Ask lots of questions. Get the facts. If BMI is an issue for your child, step back and access your entire family.  Chances are everyone could benefit from fewer inches around the middle.

Take a deep breath and consider your next steps carefully. Think health not appearance. Your child’s body image is fragile. Criticism, banishing favorite treats, or instituting a No Soda Policy is not the way to begin. Instead why not turn your child’s need to lose those extra pounds into a “Get Healthy Project” for the entire family? Bring everyone together and ask for each family member’s definition of Healthy. Keep a list. For the kids, it might mean better sports performance. For you it might mean having enough energy to exercise and for your significant other, it might mean coming to grips with stress eating. Whatever the answers focus on positive outcomes. Wanting to be healthy is a fine objective, but developing a vivid image of what Healthy really looks like will strengthen everyone’s motivation.

Come up with a catchy name for your project, something like The “Smith” Family’s Awesome Health Upgrade. Then consider making it official with banners, posters, special events and outings. Older kids who might want a more sophisticated assignment could do some helpful research. Encourage your kids to use their creativity, the more fun they have, the more willing their participation will be and the easier it will be to keep your Family Health Upgrade on course.

Share your kids’ creative ideas.

Share a healthy outing your family has enjoyed.

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Sheila Cartelli