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September is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

Nearly 20% of American children suffer from obesity. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), many factors determine whether a child or teen will be severely overweight, and kids in certain groups may face more risks than others, but a healthy diet and plenty of physical activity can combat the condition. 

A nutritious diet and regular exercise routine are critical for both parents and their children. There are risks associated with obesity in children, but there are steps you can take and ways to encourage your child to ensure they live a healthy lifestyle. 

Why is Childhood Obesity Dangerous? 

Childhood obesity is linked to: 

  • Heart disease 
  • High blood pressure 
  • Type 2 diabetes 
  • Emotional struggles 
  • Psychological struggles that may lead to eating disorders 

How is Obesity Calculated? 

Per the CDC, Body Mass Index (BMI) is calculated by dividing a person’s weight by the square of their height. Because children and teens are growing, the ranges of weight, height and BMI vary by age and sex. 

Ultimately, BMI is expressed in a chart that compares children to their peers. 

If you suspect your child is overweight, you can use the CDC’s BMI calculator for children and teens online. However, always check with your family doctor before beginning a significant diet or exercise program. 

Eating & Exercising to Avoid Obesity 

Active kids need a lot of calories. Inactive kids need less. Still, they are moving, growing and learning every day. No matter how much energy your child expends in a day, the best tip is to avoid empty calories in sugary foods and soda. Nutritious meals and snacks are still vital for your growing child. 

Avoid junk food, and add these to your household diet instead: 

  • Bananas 
  • Apples 
  • Oranges 
  • Unsalted nuts 
  • Yogurt 
  • String cheese 

Healthy SD’s Fruit & Veggie of the Month features nutrition information, fun facts and unique recipes that can help spice up mealtime and healthy eating. 

The best way to burn off excess weight is to add more physical activity to your child’s weekly routine. Whether that’s a sports club at school, an evening walk after supper, or swimming lessons in the summer, seek ways to keep your child active to fight childhood obesity. Move Your Way offers guidelines to encourage movement as a family. Remember that any movement counts, no matter how big or how small. 

Learn More 

Our mission is to help South Dakotans be more physically active and eat a healthier diet. Follow Healthy SD on Facebook for more helpful tools in the fight against childhood obesity.