Do’s and Don’ts for Reducing Risk of Childhood Obesity

childhood obesity

At Superior Foot & Ankle Care Center we treat many conditions that are made worse by the patient being overweight. The risk and severity of arthritis in the feet and ankles, metatarsalgia and flat feet, for example, are all increased by obesity. In addition, being obese increases the risk for diseases like diabetes and hypertension, which also have serious health consequences for your feet. September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. Studies have shown that obese children tend to continue to be obese as adults. For that reason, it’s important to foster healthy lifestyle habits during childhood. Below are some do’s and don’ts to help your child maintain a healthy weight:

Do: strive to have your child spend at least 60 minutes a day being physically active. Encourage them to participate in a wide variety of activities to be sure they get exercise that is aerobic, muscle and bone strengthening. Not all activities have to be organized. Just playing in the yard children are likely to run, jump and climb which will give them all the types of exercise they need.

Don’t: force your child to be active if they complain of foot or ankle pain. If you suspect a podiatric problem is sidelining your child from being physically active, contact our Long Beach office (562-420-9800) for an appointment. Our podiatrists, Dr. Victoria Foley and Dr. Constance Omelas will examine your child’s feet to determine if there is an injury or other disorder that is causing them pain.

Don’t: allow unlimited amounts of time spent in front of a screen. If your child has full-time access to cell phone, television, computer and video games they are less likely to engage in physical activities.

Do: make changes in your family’s eating habits. Increase the number of fruits and vegetables in your menus, replace sugary drinks with water and have healthy snacks readily available. Involve your children in menu planning and grocery shopping and teach them how to make good food choices.

Do: set a regular bedtime for your child or teen that allows them to get enough sleep. Depending on your child’s age, they may need between 8 and 12 hours of sleep per night. Studies show that lack of sleep increases the risk of obesity.

Approximately 1 in 5 children today are obese. Working together, families and communities can help greatly reduce this number with lifestyle choices that will make for healthier children and, ultimately, healthier adults.