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Childhood Obesity: Warning Signs & What We Can Do About It

Olivia Mateo

May 25, 2022

When it comes to childhood obesity, Texas ranks sixth across all US states. This week, the Texas Mom Blog looks at the warning signs of childhood obesity and how to tackle them. 

“What’s for dinner?” – a question our little ones ask us time and time again. The desire to provide our kids with the nutrients they need is easily tossed out the window on those busier, more stressful days. Days when the convenience of fast food seems right around the corner. Here we find ourselves paving the way for poor eating habits and, potentially, unhealthy weight gain.

Let’s not beat around the bush when talking about obesity. It’s a very serious concern for children living in the United States. This health problem arises in children from all backgrounds, with a shocking one in five kids being obese. In fact, Texas ranks sixth among all US states with regard to childhood obesity rates. 

Identifying the signs of childhood obesity

Learning how to flag obesity isn’t as hard as it may seem. Aside from children showing physical signs of obesity, measuring their BMI is also a useful indicator. You can use growth charts, which show national BMI-for-age percentiles for children. If a child’s BMI fall on or above the 95th percentile for their age group, they are considered to be obese. 

Other warning signs of childhood obesity include: 

  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Excessive sweating
  • Sleep apnea
  • Snoring

Practical ways to fight and prevent childhood obesity 

Understanding what goes into our bodies makes all the difference in the world. Consciously eating better and avoiding fast food is not as hard in Texas as you may think. Fresh fruits and vegetables can easily be purchased from local farmers’ markets, at your local grocery store, or even directly from the farms and ranches themselves. Luckily, the Texas Department of State Health Services’s Obesity Prevention Program has also stepped in by ensuring more and more schools do not offer calorically sweetened beverages to students. 

A good reminder is to always try and “eat the rainbow”. Simply put, eating the rainbow involves consuming vegetables and fruits of different colors every day. By getting a variety of color in your child’s diet, you’ll be providing them with an array of vitamins, minerals and nutrients that benefit their health. Eating the rainbow is a fun way to get the kids excited about fruits and veggies!

If you want to take things further into your own hands, then why not pack your kids their own school lunches! TexasRealFood has a wealth of recipes that are easy to follow and make sure your kids not only enjoy a tasty meal, but a nutritious one as well! 

healthy snacking

Introduce healthy snacking at home 

With my kids consuming a bit too much processed food in school and at parties (candy-fueled sleepovers ring a bell?), I’ve decided to clean up our pantry and encourage healthier eating habits at home.

To get more fruit and veggies into my childrens’ diets, I’ve found it great to play around with whatever is in season and make fun homemade snacks. Dehydrated mango, made-from-scratch watermelon popsicles, and freshly squeezed orange juice are great options for getting more fruit in!

As a general rule, when it comes to sweet treats, try to make your own. For example, compared to store-bought cakes, homemade cakes are a far better option as they don’t carry additional chemicals and preservatives. Fat and sugar levels can be easily adjusted when following your own recipes. Therefore, when eaten in moderation, a homemade cookie or brownie can be much healthier (and tastier too!). I always involve the kids whenever I’m baking to help them learn about the food they eat. 

At the end of the day, we just want what’s best for our kids. We want them to lead happy and healthy lives, and addressing obesity concerns and doing what we can to give our children healthier food options will help this wish become reality.