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September is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

Dangers of Obesity

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost 1 in 5 children in the United States from the ages of 2-19 years are obese! With obesity, comes risks factors for heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, sleep disturbances, and joint pain among others. Obesity has traditionally been thought of as a diagnoses reserved for adults. However, in recent years that standard has changed due to the growing childhood obesity numbers. There is good news! Obesity can be prevented, and reversed.

Defining Obesity

In order to conquer this problem, let's first define obesity. Childhood obesity occurs in children with a Body Mass Index (BMI) at or above the 95th percentile for their specific gender and age as defined by the CDC. BMI is a measure of body mass based on weight and height. Obesity generally happens over time by getting little to no exercise, consuming sugar-loaded beverages along with high fat and fried foods, and eating limited amounts of fruits and vegetables. Given a general definition of obesity, and the dangers, how do we overcome and prevent this issue?

Preventing and Reversing Obesity

A good start is eating more food from home and less fast foods from restaurants. By cutting back on going through the drive-thru, you can significantly reduce the amount of unnecessary fat in your diet. Instead, if in a hurry and on the go, make quick sandwiches at home with a good side-salad and piece of fruit. A second important point to remember is vegetable intake. When preparing your plate for dinner, focus on making half of your plate fruits and vegetables. This provides excellent vitamins, minerals, and fiber in fewer calories. There are many other ways to eat nutritious meals and snacks. With multiple good websites out there, try visiting choosemyplate.org to learn more about eating healthy. The third major goal to make when trying to overcome or prevent obesity is exercise The CDC recommends children and adolescents get 60 minutes or more of physical activity daily. This does not have to be all at one time; it can be throughout the day in bursts of 15-20 minute segments if necessary. Exercise is very important in helping to burn calories and strengthen muscles and bones.

Covenant Cares

Covenant works diligently to answer the problem of childhood obesity through programs such as Healthy Heroes, which helps fight obesity and encourage healthy lifestyle habits such as eating five servings of fruits and vegetables every day and getting at least 1 hour of activity daily. Covenant also joined forces with Kohl's to form a childhood health and wellness campaign. This initiative focuses on educating families, children, and the community on health and wellness.

Through eating healthy, exercising regularly, and being mindful of overall health and wellness, obesity can be reduced and overcome.

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