Across the border (in the USA), the past four decades have seen obesity rates rise higher and higher among all age groups, increasing more than four times among children aged six to 11!
In addition, more than 23 million or 32% of children and teenagers (2-19 yrs) are overweight or obese.
As a result of the childhood obesity epidemic, groups, individuals, politicians, health networks & organizations are hosting National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month (COAM). COAM gives elected officials, educators, physicians and regular individuals a chance to stand up and fight childhood obesity to provide youth with the best opportunities for optimal growth and development. What about Canada?
How are our children and youth doing? Here are some facts to help promote change:
- There has also been a dramatic increase in unhealthy weights in children over the past four decades. In 1978, 15% were at an unhealthy weight and in 2007 statistics Canada found that 29% of adolescents had an unhealthy weight.
- Most adolescents have trouble outgrowing this problem and in fact, many continue to gain weight.
- Children and youth are spending almost eight hours a day in front of screens and 63% of free time, after school and on weekends, is spent being sedentary!
- If current trends continue, by 2040, up to 70% of adults aged 40 years will be either overweight or obese.
The Healthy Families BC team strongly supports COAM and as a result, is encouraging all Canadians to be aware of unhealthy weights in children and youth and to take action!
Here are four simple steps we should all promote and encourage our youth to take in order to fight childhood obesity:
- Eat five or more fruit and veggie servings per day
- Limit screen time to two hours or less per day
- Do one hour or more of physical activity per day
- Consume zero sweetened beverages per day
We encourage parents, educators and teachers to take an active role in promoting healthy weights, healthy eating, daily physical activity and other healthy lifestyle behaviours to ensure the best future for our children and youth.
Here are some great references and resources that can assist you:
National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month (COAM)
The Canadian Childhood Obesity Foundation
The Physical Activity Line
The Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines
Dietitian Services at Health Link BC
Action Schools! BC