Weighing the Risks of Obesity

By: Janet McClaskey, A.T.C.
Nationwide Children’s Sports Medicine
Center for Healthy Weight and Nutrition

As school districts continue to reduce the amount of physical education children receive, we as parents have to step in and educate our children about not only the importance of exercise but how and when to do it. Their physical and mental health depends on it. Children that are overweight or obese often experience an array of psychological issues that can delay or halt the development of their self-esteem and self- confidence. They also are at significant risk of developing severe medical problems known as co-morbidities which can be reduced or prevented with physical activity.

Diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, hypertension, and sleep disorders are just a few of the co-morbidities associated with obesity. Regular physical activity reduces the risk of developing these medical disorders and in individuals who have already developed these conditions proper nutrition can reduce the severity. Below are some simple physical activities that you can use to get your family moving!

Begin by identifying activities your child enjoys. For children interested in dancing or martial arts, enroll them in a class or pick up a tape or DVD from your local library. This Individuality may be the key in keeping your child active for life. Begin with activities your child is comfortable with and gradually increase the time and intensity in which it is performed. This Progression will help reduce burn-outs and will also keep your child interested. When progressing, stress the Intensity not the quantity of exercise. Walking is a good exercise to begin with, however once your child has adapted to this, add short fast walks and jogs or play a game of soccer or keepaway to ward off monotony. Motivate your children by developing a social support network. Friends and family can provide a reason to get moving when the goals of change in their physical appearance or physical fitness aren’t enough. The final key is Consistency. Set aside time each day for short bouts of physical activity. This doesn’t need to be performed all in one shot to be effective. A little bit at a time can be just as effective and fun.

Use these components to help your child develop an overall sense of well-being. Physical activity should be for life, which is a good reason to get off the couch or to move away from the computer and paperwork to get active with our children. Weigh the risks of obesity and you’ll see the real reasons to get active with your kids!!