If you’re living in Utah, then here’s some good news on the state of childhood obesity. As of 2018, less than 10% of kids between 10 and 17 years old had a high body mass index (BMI). This ranked the Beehive State last.
It doesn’t mean parents can already be complacent. These figures can increase anytime. Besides, with the negative consequences childhood obesity brings, it’s best to pull the percentages down. Here are x ideas:
1. Promote Better Oral Hygiene
More studies associate poor oral health, such as dental cavities and childhood obesity. One of these is European research in 2017 involving Swedish preschool and primary school children.
The team learned that those who had higher levels of cavity-causing bacteria in the mouth also had higher BMI and ate sugary foods than their peers.
The connection is not lost, though. The microorganisms in the mouth feed on sugar, allowing them to multiply fast. As their numbers grow, they harm the gums and the teeth.
The research then advocates parents to talk about better eating habits and dental hygiene. They can then complement this strategy with:
- A regular visit to a pediatric dentist
- Brushing at least twice a day
- Flossing daily
- Replacing the toothbrush every three months
2. Set a Good Example
Obesity is a complex condition made worse by genetics. In a large study by the University of Sussex in 2017, up to 45% of children’s obesity can be inherited.
However, this research needs further investigation. Moreover, in most cases, genetic traits only make someone predisposed to the condition, not necessarily cause them.
For a 2015 study, it’s still nurture, not nature, that determines obesity among kids. In fact, for adopted children, the risk of becoming overweight was up to 21% of their parents also had higher BMI. The percentage rose to 27% if they were biological children.
What does this mean? Parents might need to set a good example as far as healthy living is concerned. Don’t be snacking on M&Ms when you wish to teach a kid how to love broccoli.
3. Reduce Exposure to Plastics
If you’re looking for more reasons to enjoy a waste-free lifestyle, then childhood obesity is one of them. This is according to a 2019 study by the Endocrine Society.
Plastic containers and canned foods contain common chemicals called bisphenols F and S. These are also known hormone disruptors. Hormones are substances in the body that regulate various functions, especially metabolism.
For the body to be in an optimal state, the endocrine system should produce just enough hormones. Anything less or more can trigger dysfunction, one of the results of which is obesity. It could be because the metabolism slows down or the communication between endocrine glands goes haywire.
4. Spend At Least 20 Minutes Outdoors
Some vitamins help measure obesity risk, and one of these is vitamin D. In one of the PLoS Medicine studies, people who weigh more than their ideal weight usually have lower vitamin D levels. Both are also risk factors for type 2 diabetes since they increase the odds of insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance happens when the cells become less receptive to a hormone called insulin, which delivers glucose for their energy. However, in reality, this complicated relationship places an obese person in a vicious unhealthy cycle.
Resistance to insulin can worsen obesity risks, which can then lead to lower vitamin D levels. When a person’s vitamin D levels are insufficient, they boost the chances of inflammation, which can also cause hormone dysfunction.
Fortunately, the best source of vitamin D is the sun. Parents can encourage children to spend about 20 minutes in the morning outdoors. It can also entice them to increase their physical activity.
Obesity is a significant predictor of poor health once your child becomes an adult. The sooner you prevent it, the healthier they will be in the future.
Meta title: 4 Ways Parents Can Help Kids Avoid Obesity
Meta description: About 8% of the children in Utah are obese. Although the percentage is small, the numbers could increase in the future. How can parents help prevent childhood obesity?