When an estimated 160 million American adults are considered overweight or obese, it’s alarming, but not surprising, that nearly 30 percent of girls and boys under age 20 are also overweight or obese. The rate of obesity among American children is troubling, as severe health effects of childhood obesity include high blood pressure and high cholesterol, risks for developing cardiovascular disease. Overweight children are also at risk for impaired glucose tolerance, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, as well as joint issues, musculoskeletal discomfort and fatty liver disease. Overweight children often have low self-esteem, anxiety and depression, social problems and self-reported low quality of life. That’s a lot of issues and pressure for children to deal with, especially when healthier lifestyle habits can support physical and psychological health.
Like adults, childhood obesity is influenced by unhealthy lifestyle behaviors. Drivers of childhood obesity include a diet filled with high-calorie, low-nutrient-density foods and sugary beverages, inadequate physical activity and a high amount of sedentary time, as well as unhealthy sleep patterns. Many in the medical community warn that childhood obesity is a lifetime sentence, as overweight children grow to be overweight adults with threatened life expectancy and diminished long-term health. Conversely, a healthy diet and regular physical activity support healthy growth and development, as well as normal weight maintenance throughout childhood.
Despite previous reports that childhood obesity had stabilized in recent years, a team of experts at Duke University found no evidence of a decline in obesity prevalence among children or adults. Sadly, as the obesity epidemic continues to worsen, researchers found that the most severe obesity was increasing among very young children, those under five years of age, as well as girls in their late teens. While a comprehensive national strategy is needed to combat the obesity epidemic, including reserving time for physical education in schools and protecting children from manipulative food advertising, good lifestyle habits begin in the home. When parents model healthy behaviors, kids follow suit. Although getting a child to eat healthy foods can be a constant struggle, it is a battle worth fighting, as healthy children grow to be healthy adults.
- Americans typically exceed the recommended levels of calories from solid fats, added sugars, refined grains and sodium.
- Foods that provide calories but not nutrients, such as added sugars and fats, make up approximately 40 percent of the daily diet for 2 – 18 year olds, largely from soft drinks, pizza and desserts.
- Only one in three children are physically active every day.
- Many children spend an average of seven and one half hours in front of a screen, such as TV, phones, and computers.
- On an average school day, nearly one third of teens play video or computer games for three or more hours.
- In general, American adults and children eat less than the recommended amounts of whole foods, including fruits, vegetables and grains, as well as dairy and healthy fats.
A recent national survey found that 75 percent of respondents considered their diets to be good, very good or excellent. While some seem confused about what actually constitutes a healthy diet, adding a fruit or a vegetable to every meal is a good place to start. While we may be choosing foods that are healthy in moderation, portion size is a major cause of obesity.
Estimated daily caloric needs for children and teens:
- 2-3 years old – 1,000
- 4-8 years old – 1,200-1,400
- 9-13 year old girls – 1,400-1,600
- 9-13 year old boys – 1,600-2,000
- 14-18 year old girls – 1,800
- 14-18 year old boys – 2,000-2,400
Infants and babies under age 2 need healthy fats for brain and nerve development. Toddlers and preschoolers need calcium to build strong bones and teeth. This is a good age to encourage fruit and vegetable consumption, as kids need nutrients as well as fiber for healthy digestion. Grade schoolers need sufficient protein, complex carbs and healthy fats. Teens have higher calcium requirements, as the majority of bone mass is built during this time. As well, teen girls have higher iron requirements and boys need slightly higher protein than girls. During the first year of life, infants don’t require water, but at all other ages, offer water frequently, especially when its hot outside or when children are engaged in sports or physical activity.
- Vitamin A is needed for healthy skin and normal growth, as well as vision and tissue repair.
- Vitamin B assists in metabolic activities and is necessary to produce red blood cells.
- Vitamin C is needed for immune system health and strength, as well as for healthy tissue, muscles and skin.
- Vitamin D aids calcium absorption into bones and aids the formation of strong teeth.
- Iron helps build muscles and healthy blood.
- Calcium is vital for the maintenance of healthy bones and teeth.
- Supplements are not intended to replace a healthy diet. However they can provide nutrients often missing in the diet in support of overall health, growth and development.
Professional Supplement Center offers many high quality supplements formulated to support children’s and teens’ digestive and overall health:
Junior Nutrients by Pure Encapsulations®: Designed for teens and children ages 4 and over, this hypoallergenic formula provides nutrient-rich, highly bioavailable activated multivitamins, minerals and trace elements in support of daily wellness. Gluten free, Non-GMO hypoallergenic formulation.
Ther-Biotic® Children’s Chewable by Klaire Labs™: This broad-spectrum hypoallergenic probiotic supplement is formulated for children ages 2 and older. A potent pre-and probiotic blend, these natural cherry flavored chewable tablets provide 25 billion CFU of 8 beneficial strains of microflora in support of healthy gastrointestinal and immune function in children. Free of gluten, wheat, milk/casein, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, soy and artificial colors, flavors and preservatives.
Berry Dophilus™ by Now® Foods: Suitable for adults and children, these berry flavored chewables provide a blend of 10 clinically validated strains of beneficial probiotic strains for a total of 2 billion CFU per serving. Berry Dophilus™ is designed to support healthy gastrointestinal and immune function and a healthy microbiome, creating a favorable environment for absorption of nutrients. Xylitol sweetened. Gluten, wheat, dairy, egg, soy and tree nut free, kosher, halal, keto-friendly vegan formulation.
Digest Smart® Kids Enzyme by Renew Life™: This berry flavored chewable amino acid and plant-based enzyme formula provides 7 kid-friendly digestive enzymes that gently break down proteins, carbohydrates and fats in support of healthy digestive function, as well as a healthy intestinal lining. No sugar or artificial ingredients. Quality, purity and potency guaranteed through expiration date.
Ultra Preventative® Kids Grape by Douglas Laboratories®: Formulated for children ages 4 and older, this great tasting chewable multivitamin, mineral and trace element supplement provides important antioxidant vitamins C and E, a complete vitamin B complex, easily absorbable calcium and magnesium, as well as a full spectrum of bioavailable trace elements in support of children’s overall health and wellbeing. Free of yeast, gluten, soy protein, milk/dairy, corn, sodium, starch and artificial coloring, flavoring and preservatives. Vegetarian formulation.
Childhood Obesity Causes and Consequences: https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/childhood/causes.html
The vast majority of American adults are overweight or obese, and weight is a growing problem among US children, http://www.healthdata.org/news-release/vast-majority-american-adults-are-overweight-or-obese-and-weight-growing-problem-among
Childhood Nutrition. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/nutrition/Pages/Childhood-Nutrition.aspx
Understanding the Role of Nutrition in the Brain & Behavioral Development of Toddlers and Preschool Children: Identifying and Overcoming Methodological Barriers. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2776771/
Kids Need Their Nutrients. https://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=kids-need-their-nutrients–1-19820