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Health: Kids

Childhood Obesity in the Black Community

Obese Woman
Posted by Tara White on Friday, September 30, 2011

According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 23% of African American adolescents ages 12-19 were more likely to be overweight than non-Hispanic White adolescents (14 %). In children 6-11 years old, 20 % of African American children as compared to 14% of non-Hispanic White children were overweight. Why are our children at risk of developing diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, asthma, arthritis, and a general poor health status as adults? Children who are overweight have a 70% chance of becoming overweight or obese as adults.

Growing up as a child of the 70’s, I was fortunate to have physical activity as part of my everyday routine. From walking to school, playing in the school yard during recess and lunch, having a physical education class as part of the curriculum to playing on the block with the neighborhood kids, we definitely got in our daily physical activity.

Lack of exercise and poor eating habits both contribute to the childhood obesity issue and the complications that come with the disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the last 20 years, type 2 diabetes (formerly known as adult-onset diabetes) has been reported among U.S. children and adolescents with increasing frequency.

According to the American Obesity Association, some contributing factors to childhood obesity include, lack of physical activity, sedentary behavior, socioeconomic status, poor eating habit, environment and genetics.

There are ways to lower these statistics in childhood obesity. First, make sure your child is getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day. Take them outside in the backyard, to the neighborhood park or for a long walk (you will get your exercise in too). They can also get their exercise through video games like “Just Dance Kids”,  Wii Sports and Sesame Street: Ready, Set, Grover! video game, just to name a few. You can also take them to a play zone like Chuck E. Cheese's or Monkey Joes or take them skating. There are many ways to get your kids the physical activity they need. You can just ad-lib and make up fun moves in your living room. Also, check with your city Parks and Recreation department. They have many activities your child can join like soccer, swimming, karate and different sports.

Second, when you child starts eating solid food, make sure they are eating healthy by serving, whole grain bread instead of white bread, fresh fruits and vegetable and non-sugary drinks. Prepare more meals at home. Try baking instead of fying foods. Serve more vegetables like salad, cabbage, broccoli and green beans. Sweets can be given in moderation. The main thing is to get them used to eating healthy from the beginning. If you are an unhealthy eater, this is a way for you to start as well.

We want our kids to be healthy, strong and smart. As parents, we are our kid’s sole providers and it is up to us to do our very best in making sure they grow up healthy and strong and pass on the same healthy habits to their children. It is never too late to start a healthy lifestyle. Not to mention, we will need them one day to take care of us.

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