BLADEN COUNTY — In a society with endless options and constant hurry, we often overlook our health. Obesity is on the rise virtually everywhere, but it is our children that are truly feeling the effects.
Sodas, candies, and other sugary snacks that are aimed at children are introduced to the shelves almost daily. According to the Kids Health Organization, 10 percent of 2-5 year-olds and more than 15 percent of children between the ages of 6 through 19 are overweight. The number of overweight minors has doubled in the last 20 to 30 years; currently, one child in five is overweight according to the National Institute for Health. The ramifications of these numbers include overweight adults, low self-esteem, numerous physiological illnesses, and possibly an early death.
Fortunately, there are easy ways to scientifically identify obesity. The easiest method is probably the BMI, or Body Mass Index test. There are online BMI calculators that require only your date of birth, weight, and height.
The best way to deal with childhood obesity is to prevent it. Most prevention methods center on a family effort. Involving everyone makes it easier and serves not to ostracize the child. Sugary drinks can contribute hundreds of thousands of calories a year. Even juice can become unhealthy in large amounts. Water is always the preferred option (BBC-Health). The best way to go about making these changes is to make small steps, because unhealthy habits can take a long time to unlearn. Children do not need to be told they are overweight, many times they are much more conscious of it; what they need is love and understanding. Unless directed by a doctor, children should not be put on restrictive diets.
Physical activity is possibly the best preventative measure, if a child is active, they have a much better chance of having a normal weight. Bladen County Schools puts an emphasis on this in its physical education classes. However, some schools do not have gymnasium facilities, making it difficult for students to receive vigorous physical activity. Local schools without gyms include Plain View Primary, Bladen Lakes Primary, Bladenboro Primary, and Elizabethtown Primary.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kenneth Dinkins said, “In the field of education it’s our job to teach students to be conscious of their health, because health is something you cannot put a price tag on. We try to teach children proper exercise is important to their well-being, and that they should be fit and eat well.”
Even with these precautionary measures, many children remain obese. Though it could be a hereditary genetic problem, it is more likely a lack of information. For information about causes, conditions, and treatment of childhood obesity access http://www.kidshealth.org/parent/generalbody/overweight_obesity.html, or to calculate your BMI you can visit the Kids Health BMI calculator at http://www.kidshealth.org/parent/food/weight/bmi_charts.html.