What’s Behind Childhood Obesity?

At Superior Foot & Ankle Center we know the importance for your feet of maintaining a healthy weight. Obesity puts added strain on the muscles, joints and ligaments of your feet and is a risk factor for several foot disorders. September is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month and we want to help families create healthy habits now so that children will grow into healthy adults.

Contributing Factors

Thankfully, the incidence of obese and overweight children appears to have leveled off over the last decade after steadily rising for several decades before. However, we still have a long way to go. Nearly 1/3 of children ages 10-17 are overweight or obese. The lifestyle of the average child has changed dramatically from even 2 or 3 generations ago. Some reasons for the increased weight in young people include:

  • Easy access to inexpensive, high calorie foods and sugary drinks
  • To much time spent being sedentary and inactive
  • Lack of sleep
  • Increase in cost of healthy foods
  • Decrease in community-oriented opportunities for physical activity

If you consider the number of “screens” most children own, the amount of pre-packaged and process food they consume and the decrease in time and opportunity to simply play outdoors or in the neighborhood, it’s easy to see how the increase in overweight children has occurred.

Ways to Help

There are many options for helping young people attain and maintain a healthy weight, including:

  • Get rid of junk food and sugary sodas and snacks. If it’s too much for your family to go “cold turkey,” you can start by swapping in healthier versions of their favorite: frozen yogurt for ice cream, granola bars for cookies, baked chips instead of fried.
  • Cook more meals at home. This way you control the ingredients. This is also a great opportunity to get your children involved in learning about healthy meals and helping to plan, shop and cook them.
  • Get everyone a water bottle and encourage them to keep it filled. Drinking enough water everyday helps control hunger and will take the place of sweet drinks.
  • Make fitness and exercise a priority for the whole family. It doesn’t have to be boring! Ice skating, rollerblading, skiing, hiking, bicycling and team sports are all good and fun choices.

By preventing obesity now when your children are young you will be helping them avoid serious medical conditions down the road which can impact their feet and entire body: diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and more. If you have additional questions about how to be proactive about your child’s foot health, our podiatrists, Dr. Victoria Foley and Dr. Constance Omelas will be happy to answer them. Contact our Long Beach office by calling: 562-420-9800.