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One in Five: Childhood Obesity

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One in Five: Childhood Obesity

September is National Childhood Obesity Month. About 1 in 5 American children has obesity. Many factors such as sleep routines, physical activity, genetics and eating patterns contribute to this statistic. And unfortunately, childhood obesity puts children at a higher risk for asthma, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, bone and joint issues, and more.  

Health Equity and Obesity 

There are harmful stereotypes that surround obesity in children. The idea that the obese child is only eating unhealthy food or that the parent/caregiver is not providing enough physical activity or healthy food options for their children is a false assumption.  In fact, health equity plays a massive role in why childhood obesity rates are so high. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than half of Americans do not live within half a mile of a park. Over 40% of families do not live within a mile of healthier food options. If the parent/caregiver of a child does not have access to healthy food options or access to a place where children can run and play, how can they reduce the risk of childhood obesity?  

Click here to learn more about what the federal government, state and local officials, health care professionals, and more can do to help with childhood obesity.  

Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity  

The CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity (DNPAO), and Obesity provides tools and resources to make healthy living easier for everyone. The DNPAO recognizes that there is no easy solution to obesity in children or adults. 

DNPAO Efforts 

  • Increasing breastfeeding support 
  • Promoting the availability of healthy, affordable foods 
  • Creating safe, easy places where people can be physically active 
  • Educating the public about the benefits of maintaining a healthy weight 
  • Partnering with national, state, and local groups to advance programs and priorities: 
    • Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) 
      • Empowers community organizations to identify their unique needs when it comes to fighting obesity 
    • Childhood Obesity Research Demonstration (CORD) 
      • Focuses on improving community-clinical collaborations to help prevent/manage childhood obesity in low-income families 
    • High Obesity Program (HOP) 
      • Funds 15 land grant universities in states with county obesity rates higher than 40% to help increase the availability of healthy foods and places to be active 

What You Can Do  

If you are a parent or guardian of a child, the statistics surrounding childhood obesity can be alarming. There are ways you can help prevent obesity in your child. The CDC recommends the following: 

  • Adopting healthy eating patterns as a family  
    • Eating a variety of vegetables and fruits, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat/fat-free dairy products 
    • Frozen and canned fruits and vegetables are often less expensive 
  • Move more as a family  
    • Walking the dog, riding bikes, and active chores like vacuuming a room or raking leaves count as physical activity 
  • Set consistent sleep routines 
    • Good sleep helps prevent type 2 diabetes, obesity, injuries, and problems with attention and behavior 
  • Replace screen time with family time  

If you need more help when it comes to preventing or managing childhood obesity in your family, AFSPA offers nutrition and weight management programs through the Foreign Service Benefit Plan. These programs can help you learn about healthier eating habits and physical activities that you can teach your children.  

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