One out of every five children in the U.S. is overweight or obese. This means that 17 percent of all U.S. children likely have physical or emotional health problems that can follow them into adulthood.
Being overweight or obese early in life increases risk of developing chronic health issues that were once only found in adults, like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer. On a mental and emotional level obese children often suffer from depression, low self-esteem, emotional eating and bullying.
National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month in September is dedicated to educating the public on ways to prevent the severe and premature health risks associated with childhood obesity. Many factors can play a role in a child’s excess weight gain, and nearly all are preventable. Some factors may include family lifestyle, difficulty with school, troubles with family, limited knowledge about nutrition, irregular physical activities and easy access to overindulgence with sugary snacks or beverages.
The majority of obese children don’t have control over these factors, but many parents do. Parents can prevent their children from gaining excess weight by making sure they get enough sleep, give additional emotional support, provide healthy food and encourage regular physical activity. One of the best activities for overweight or obese children is swimming.
Overweight or obese children often find that physical activity is strenuous on their joints and swimming is a low-impact exercise that gets the heart rate pumping and calories burning. Additionally, the most effective way to get your child exercising is by making it enjoyable. Typically children don’t think of swimming as exercise because it’s fun!
You don’t have to let the end of summer be the end of swimming for the year. Even if you don’t have a home pool you can find your child a swim team at a local swim club or locate your nearest year-round pool.
In honor of Childhood Obesity Awareness Month make swimming a part of you and your family’s regular routine.
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