Childhood obesity is on the rise in the United States and more and more children are being counted as overweight and obese. Medical complications associated with obesity are also increasing in children. Older adolescents who are obese are more likely to have pre-diabetes and 70% of obese youths had at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease. One recent study also shows obesity and low activity may affect the brain function in adolescents. September is National Obesity Prevention Month and although the month is almost over, it is still a good time to work towards developing healthy habits for your children and family.
There are many factors that can contribute to childhood obesity including diet and nutrition, play and physical activity, and even environmental considerations. Children are influenced mainly by family, friends, school, day care centers, medical providers and the entertainment industry, thus the messages they receive from these sources have a huge impact on their health. As of now, most children do not get the recommended 60 minutes of daily physical activity. The younger a child is introduced to a nutritious diet and active lifestyle, the more likely they are to develop good habits that will follow them into adulthood. HealthyChildren.org, a website created by the American Academy of Pediatricians, is a great resource for families on many topics and they have an entire section for healthy and active living.
Physical therapists can also address families’ concerns relating to obesity and childhood fitness by incorporating health promotion, wellness, physical activity, and prevention strategies when working with a child. These rehab professionals work to minimize impairments and physical restrictions while maximizing a person’s ability to participate in meaningful activities. The goal of a physical therapist is to address any concerns regarding motor development, balance, coordination, strength and endurance, while working with the child and family to adopt fitness as an important activity. A physical therapist can help a family develop a fitness program and provide strategies on how to incorporate it into a child’s lifestyle for lifelong health.
If you have a question or concern regarding a child, it is important to contact your pediatrician to discuss any health concerns. Additionally, Beyond the Clinic’s physical therapists are able to help children and parents develop healthy lifestyles, while addressing concerns related to motor development or injury.
Feel free to call on of our physical therapists at: (503) 496-0385 with any questions or to set-up an evaluation.
(Blog post courtesy of Crystal Bridges, DPT)