Resources for parents and children to help in the fight for healthy weight, healthy foods, and healthy exercise
National Institutes of Health programs include vital research and community outreach for healthy results.
At the National Institutes of Health (NIH), research on ending the epidemic of obesity is a high priority. In early 2003, NIH established the NIH Obesity Research Task Force to help coordinate the many ways that research could solve this health crisis.
In addition to the research, a number of institutes provide tools and information directly to the American people to help achieve healthier weights for our children.
Obesity in Children
Obesity means having too much body fat. It is different from being overweight, which means weighing too much. Both terms mean that a person's weight is greater than what is considered healthy for his or her height. Children grow at different rates, so it isn't always easy to know when a child is obese or overweight. Ask your doctor to measure your child's height and weight to determine if he or she is in a healthy range.
If a weight loss program is necessary, the NIH recommends that you involve the whole family in healthy habits so your child doesn't feel singled out. You can encourage healthy eating by serving more fruits and vegetables and buying fewer sodas and high-calorie, high-fat snack foods. Physical activity can also help your child overcome obesity or being overweight. Kids need about 60 minutes each day.
- One out of every three children in the United States is now overweight or obese. That places them at greater risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, and cancer over the course of their lives.
- Obesity is estimated to cause 112,000 deaths per year in the United States.
- One-third of all children born in the year 2000 are expected to develop diabetes during their lifetime.
- The current generation may be on track to have a shorter lifespan than their parents.
- Obesity-related medical conditions cost nearly $150 billion per year. Overall, medical spending on adults attributed to obesity topped about $40 billion in 1998, and by 2008, increased to an estimated $147 billion.
- Excess weight during childhood costs an estimated $3 billion per year.
To Find Out More
The following resources can help you help your child make good eating and exercise decisions:
- BAM! Body and Mind answers kids' questions about health, including physical activity and nutrition. (It also offers a "Teacher's Corner" for educators.)
- Fruits and Veggies—More Matters is a collaboration between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Produce for Better Health Foundation to encourage Americans to eat more fruits and vegetables. The Web site offers nutritional information, recipes, and tips. www.fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov
- KidsHealth offers nutrition and fitness information for kids.
- MedlinePlus Obesity in Children.
- MyPyramid is an interactive tool that replaces the Food Guide Pyramid. The MyPyramid Web site offers information to help you make healthier food choices and find your balance between food and physical activity. The Web site also has materials just for kids.
MyPyramid by USDA's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion
- National Diabetes Education Program provides information about diabetes and children to parents and healthcare professionals.
Diabetes in Children and Teens
- We Can! Ways to Enhance Children's Activity and Nutrition is a national program designed for families and communities to help children maintain a healthy weight. wecan.nhlbi.nih.gov
- Helping Your Overweight Child
www.win.niddk.nih.gov/publications/over_child.htm (also available in Spanish)
- Take Charge of Your Health! A Guide for Teenagers!
www.win.niddk.nih.gov/publications/take_charge.htm (also available in Spanish)
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