Obesity rates among children and youth in Canada have nearly tripled in the last 30 years.
Children and youth who are obese are at higher risk of developing a range of health problems, and weight issues in childhood are likely to persist into adulthood.
For example, obese children have a high chance of remaining obese as adults.
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Health problems for obese children
Obese children are more likely to develop a range of health problems, including:
Physical health problems
- high blood pressure or heart disease
- type-2 diabetes
- sleep apnea and other breathing problems
- abnormal or missed menstrual cycles
- bone and joint problems
- reduced balance
Emotional health problems
- low self-esteem and negative body image
- feeling judged
- being teased or bullied
Childhood obesity is linked to the over-consumption of sugary beverages like fruit-flavoured juice, soft drinks, and sports/energy drinks.
To help children maintain a healthy body weight, Canada's Food Guide recommends limiting their intake of soft drinks and other sweetened beverages. Encourage them to quench their thirst with water.
Helping your child maintain a healthy weight
As a parent, there are several ways to encourage your child to eat healthy foods and be physically active.
Tips for eating healthy
- By following Canada's Food Guide, your family will be able to meet their energy and nutrient needs. Keep your fridge stocked with foods from all four food groups.
- Set a good example for your children by being a role model for healthy eating. What you buy is what you and your family will eat. Start by making wise food choices when you shop.
- Eat meals together as a family as often as possible.
- Involve children in choosing foods at the grocery store by teaching them how to use the Nutrition Facts table.
Tips for being physically active
- Children and teenagers should participate in at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day. This can include walking to and from school, playing sports, or riding a bike.
- Set a good example. Try to add physical activity to your daily routine and encourage your children to join you.
- Limit the amount of time your children spend on sedentary activities like watching television, playing video games, and surfing the web.
- Be aware of the opportunities your community offers to help your family stay healthy. Are there bike paths nearby? What community programs are available throughout the year?
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