The Epidemic of Childhood Obesity

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The Epidemic of Childhood Obesity

Useful resources for nurses to share with patients

By Working Nurse
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September is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, which makes it a great time to address the health problems and lifestyle challenges involved in helping kids maintain a healthy weight.

Overweight in Elementary School

Almost 60 percent of Californians are overweight or obese by BMI, according to the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research California Health Interview Survey.

That trend starts early: Physical fitness testing data from the California Department of Education indicates that 37 percent of California’s 5th grade girls and 44 percent of the state’s 5th grade boys are overweight or obese.

Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, sponsored by the American College of Sports Medicine, is intended to draw attention to the problem and the health issues to which it contributes, which include diabetes mellitus and heart disease.

Online Resources

The Department of Health and Human Services Office of Disease Prevention and Promotion has a toolkit for the observance, including tips for organizing a local health event and links to online resources like the NIH’s national “We Can!” project and First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” initiative.

You can download the toolkit here.

A Step Beyond

Preventing childhood obesity involves both physical activity and nutrition. Both can be challenging for low-income families struggling with food insecurity and restrictive parental schedules. If your patients include a lot of low-income families, consider joining forces with your colleagues to research and compile an additional tip sheet you can offer parents. Your tip sheets might include:

  • A list of free or low-cost fitness activities for kids in  the local community, such as club sports, after-school classes and group activities.
  • Resources for planning inexpensive, healthy meals.

A good starting point is the USDA’s “What’s Cooking?” website, which offers cost-effective recipes in English and Spanish. Another useful resource is Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day, a free cookbook by Leanne Brown, M.A., which can be downloaded in PDF format from Leanne Brown’s website.

Tips like these can go a long way towards not only addressing the childhood obesity problem, but also improving your patients’ overall health.   

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