Tag Archives: childhood obesity

A Look at Childhood Obesity

Childhood obesity rates have been steadily climbing over the past few decades which bodes ill for the future health status of our children. Let’s take a look at some of the facts:

  1. From 1980 to 2012, the percentage of children under 12 who were obese rocketed from 7% to 18%.
  2. In 2013 over 42 million children in the world were obese.
  3. Approximately 70% of obese children already have one or more heart disease risk factors such as high cholesterol or blood pressure.
  4. Obese children are more prone to such health complications as joint problems, sleep conditions and psychological issues such as low self-esteem.
  5. Obese children are at greater risk of developing prediabetes or type 2 diabetes.
  6. The number of children with type 2 diabetes has risen 5% of all newly diagnosed cases in 1994 to approximately 20% of newly diagnosed cases today.
  7. Studies show that obese toddlers and children are more likely to be obese as adults
  8. Schools can help reduce the rates of childhood obesity by implementing policies like mandatory fitness classes, health lessons that teach about the dangers of obesity as well as serving healthier lunches.

Tips for Parents to Help Curb Childhood Obesity

While schools can help prevent or reduce childhood obesity, parents can have the most influence. Here are some tips for parents to help their child maintain a healthy weight:

  1. Make steps toward a healthy diet for your whole family – try to cut out or drastically reduce intake of high fat snacks like chips, bars and cookies, and stock up on fruits and veggies. Also try to introduce more healthy protein like meat, beans and whole grains, limit sodium, reduce portion sizes and encourage everyone to drink more water.
  2. Use substitutions to make favorite family dishes healthier.
  3. Promote physical activity by exercising as a family.
  4. Encourage your children to participate in extra curricular sports like karate or tennis.
  5. Send your children outside to play with friends – children should get approximately an hour of physical activity daily.
  6. Set a technology time limit for your family – there is a strong link between too much screen time and childhood obesity.

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Sports With Added Benefits For Kids

Unfortunately, more children lead sedentary lives than ever before and the childhood obesity rate is rising higher and higher because of this (check out our post about that here). One third of American children are now overweight or obese, so it is more important than ever to get your child moving for at least an hour a day. We’ve investigated some great activity choices for children:

  1. Martial Arts – martial arts is one of the best activities for children and teens of any ages. Some of the benefits of martial arts include:
  • Mental focus and self discipline – sports like karate can be very good for hyperactive children who struggle with a short attention span. Karate instills a deep sense of self discipline, as it is a challenging and rigid sport. These skills, which often translate into other areas of the child’s life such as school and homework.
  • Learning to accept accomplishment and defeat graciously – there are often competitions where some children win medals and others do not, which can help the child learn to cope better with winning or losing.
  • Total body fitness – Martial arts are physically challenging and involve full-body exercise as opposed to sports like running where the child is only utilizing muscles of the lower half of the body.


  1. Dance – is a great sport to start your kids in at a very young age. Most dance studios offer classes for children as young as 4. Despite its reputation as largely a “girl’s sport” dancing is a great unisex activity. Dance teachers are pros at working in roles for boys as well as the girls of the class. Some added benefits to dance are:
  • Whole-body conditioning much the same as martial arts. Specifically, children will increase flexibility, range of motion and balance through dance lessons.
  • As dancing is a performative art, it gives children the added outlet of being creative and expressing themselves through movement they won’t get from other physical activities.
  • Children can combat stage fright and shyness in dance, as most dance schools have year-end performances for children to show off their skills to parents and the community. This can also help build self confidence.


  1. Swimming – is great exercise and teaches children valuable safety skills. Other benefits include:
  • Great cardiovascular exercise which can also benefit the lungs.
  • It is much more difficult for children to sustain a sport-related injury participating in swimming than most any other sport.
  • It caters to children of all ability levels, including those with physical disabilities who otherwise may not get chances to participate in physical activities.
  • swimming teaches life-saving skills that can potentially help the child save their own or someone else’s life.


  1. Tennis – this is a great summer sport. Some particular benefits include:
  • It gets your child outside for some vitamin D (make sure they are sun-blocked up)!
  • Tennis can help build teamwork and social skills. Kids have to learn to share, take turns and help others who may be having trouble.
  • Tennis provides skills such as balance, precision and agility. This physical conditioning will translate to virtually any other sport.
  • Children can get better at handling individual success and failure when competing in matches.


  1. Softball – is a good, non-violent team sport. Softball has many advantages for children and teens such as:
  • It gets children and teens outside
  • Team sports encourage children to learn and value working with others toward a common goal, this will help in school projects and later in the job market.
  • Softball helps the child learn and play different positions whereas some sports the child just gets one set position
  • Practicing, improving and working toward fitness goals such as speed and precision can help harbour physical self-discipline

Other good team sports include basketball and volleyball. We didn’t include hockey or football in this post because they can get very rough, but they still have their merits. Thanks for visiting DocChat today! We hope you return again soon.






Our Most Sedentary Generation

Ever notice there are never as many children outside playing kickball and tag than there were ten years ago? Many playgrounds are ghost towns nowadays compared to the bustling microcosms they once were. Unfortunately, more children lead sedentary lives today than any generation before.

Inactive Children Outnumber The Active

According to a government census study, only 1 in three children are physically active on a daily basis. Children are meant to be active, as their bodies grow faster than those of adults. Children also consume more calories per body-size than adults in order to grow at a healthy rate, so they have extra energy that needs expending. Every child should get at least one hour of activity a day, whether that means playing outside, jumping on a trampoline or participating in an extra curricular sport.

Childhood Obesity

The World Health Organization states that as of 2013, 42 million children were considered overweight or obese. Even with government effort concentrated on curtailing childhood obesity over the last several years, the number of obese and overweight children are still too high.

Technology Stifles Activity

On average, children and teens ages 8-18 spend over 7 hours a day using or viewing technology. With so many kids opting for the TV or iPad over playing sports or neighbourhood games, it is no wonder activity levels have been steadily declining while obesity rates have been on the rise over the last 40 years. Between school, meals, homework and hours of dedicated technology use, there is little time left over for playing outdoors or exercising.

Hindered Social Skills

According to a study conducted by UCLA psychologists to measure sixth graders’ recognition of facial expressions, children who didn’t use technology in the preceding 5 days performed exceedingly better at identifying the correct emotions than those who used it every day. Furthermore, recent research suggests tweens and teens who use social media frequently put more effort into establishing surface-level ‘online’ friendships than real ones which appears to impact face-to-face social skills. Recent research done on video games in particular showed that average use of non-violent games didn’t have much impact on social skills, but excessive playing of violent video games was correlated with feelings of isolation, anger, and impaired social interactions.

Inactive Children Become Sedentary Adults

Less than 5% of American adults participate in the recommended 30 minutes of exercise daily, and less than 1 in 3 reach the weekly recommended amount of exercise. Sedentary lifestyles come with significant risks. Not everyone who is sedentary has a weight problem, but inactivity can be a precursor to cardiovascular disease no matter your size. Studies show that routine exercise promotes heart and brain health, mental health and overall wellbeing. If you are obese and inactive your risks for developing health complications are higher than someone who is inactive but of normal weight. Diseases that are directly correlated to obesity include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and cancer among many others. So children who develop the habit of living inactively early on are likely to continue their unhealthy lifestyles, increasing their risk of developing inactivity or obesity related health conditions later in life.

Thus concludes our look at children and inactivity, stay tuned for our article on exercise ideas for the whole family next! Thanks for visiting DocChat!