In Georgia, childhood obesity is an epidemic, and the pervasive problem didn't happen overnight. It happened over many years like a slow-moving evolution that creeps up on society.
The staggering facts, according to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, include:
- Nearly 40 percent of Georgia’s children are overweight or obese.
- More than half of parents do not see childhood obesity as a serious problem.
- 75 percent of parents with overweight or obese children do not see their children as overweight or obese.
- Nationally, childhood obesity has increased 300 percent in the last 30 years.
But, the solutions seems a bit more simple.
With more than 18 years of experience in helping obese children, Dr. Stephanie Walsh is Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s medical director of child wellness. Dr. Walsh helps prevent and treat childhood obesity by encouraging families to live healthier lifestyles. The physician, who is also a mother to three ages 11, 9 and 7, encourages small steps.
"If your family is say, into youth sports, and you get home at 8 p.m., don't pretend you are going to come home and cook," she said. Because it's just not going to happen, added Dr. Walsh, who lives in metro Atlanta.
"But, talk small steps, to prevent overweight or eventually obestity, like don't get sodas on Monday, Wednesday or Friday nights if you are going to take the fast food route. Or, don't get french fries on those nights."
Dr. Walsh also had some ideas about exercising with children, too. "Kids don't exercise like adults, but they exercise in bursts. They jump around and then relax. Little children can run around the park and then just fall down and lie on the ground for 20 seconds. Then, they can get back up and keep going."
Dr. Walsh also shared her children's routine. "I make my kids play outside after school for a while, then they come in and do their homework." She also recommends having back-up ideas for rainy days too so exercising can continue.
The important considerations though are to keep it simple and fun. I'm sure my toddler is up for some more fun.
How do you get your kids to exercise and encourage them to eat right?
You can also view Children's latest campaign here aimed to win the fight against obesity in Georgia. Visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nbr6yCSd4hs&feature=youtu.be