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Understanding Childhood Obesity

By Mackenzie Simmons, ATC

September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month.  While not all Athletic Trainers work with youth, this is a serious issue that will affect generations to come. If obesity occurs at a young age, there is a greater risk of its continuing into adulthood.

Some health risks that affect obese children are:

- Breathing problems (sleep apnea and asthma)

- Fatty liver disease

- Joint problems and musculoskeletal discomfort

- Increased risk of diabetes

- High blood pressure and high cholesterol

Obesity may also lead to bullying, which can cause psychological and mental problems in adolescents and teenagers.  Discrimination, poor self-esteem and poor self-worth are just a few issues that may hinder the child in school, sports and other activities.  The best way to handle childhood obesity is to tackle the issue early on in a child’s life.

As parents or Athletic Trainers, we can help with this issue in several ways:

- Encourage more outside activities

- Reduce sedentary time

- Serve reasonably sized portions

- Encourage children to drink more water and stay away from sugary drinks

- Focus on good health, not a specific weight

- Set a good example

Reference:

http://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/obesity/facts.htm