Did you know that more than half of adults in New Mexico will be obese by 2030? This prediction is according to a new report by Trust for America's Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), up from 26.3 percent in 2011. With this increase, New Mexico will rank as the 32nd fattest state in the nation.
September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness month, a reminder to parents, children and providers that we need address the issue of overweight and obese children in our community to help prevent debilitating illness like heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes and depression. Today, nearly 1 in 4 children in New Mexico are overweight or obese. So what can we do about this?
Parents Are the Example
Of the five independent risk factors identified for childhood obesity, the number one risk factor is parental weight. If a parent is overweight or obese, their child is also likely to be overweight or obese. In fact, it is estimated that 80 percent of children with an obese parent will become obese. By the time that child is an adolescent, their course for a lifetime of obesity has nearly been set if they are obese in their teen years, regardless of whether their parents are obese or not.
Parents can set the example for healthy eating habits and regular physical activity to help curb the cyclical effect of parent/child obesity. Here are a few suggestions from the American Heart Association for how to make your family healthier:
Be positive: Celebrate successes, encourage healthy eating and habits, and make it fun for the whole family.
Do it together as a family: Plan times for the family to be physically active together.
Set realistic goals: To make a big change, it starts with sticking to the small ones. Set realistic goals your family can achieve together.
Find good rewards: Instead of celebrating success with a treat or extra TV time, find a reward that is in line with your new healthy goals.
Dinnertime = Family time: Eat together as a family. Turn the TV, phones and all electronics off. Have a conversation and eat at a slower pace. Make this a priority as many nights a week as possible.
Read food labels together: Educate your children by helping them understand what they are eating. This will help both you and them to make the best food choices. Read food labels and know what foods are beyond the recommended daily limit for saturated fats and calories.
Stay involved: Setting a good example at home is a start, but make sure to stay involved with your child’s food choices when they are at school and with friends. Find out what options are available at school and talk to other families about what food choices you encourage for your children.
Change that is Possible
Putting our nation’s rising obesity rate on a different course is no easy task. Start with the changes you can make today and set goals for your family. Changes today can lead to a noticeable shift in the future.
According to the findings of the TFAH and the RWJF, if every New Mexican lost an average of 10 pounds, more 52,000 people would not develop Type 2 diabetes, more than 43,000 people would be saved from coronary heart disease and 40,000 from high blood pressure.