Obesity is a common health issue that is defined by having a high percentage of body fat. A body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher is an indicator of obesity.
Over the last few decades, obesity has become a considerable health problem. In fact, it’s now considered to be an epidemic in the United States.
According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), roughly
Despite the rising percentages, there are plenty of ways to prevent obesity in both kids and adults. Here we’ll explore both, as well as how far we’ve come in preventing obesity.
Obesity prevention begins at a young age. It’s important to help young people maintain a healthy weight without focusing on the scale.
Breastfeed infants, when possible
Feed growing children appropriate portion sizes
The American Academy of Pediatrics explains that toddlers don’t require huge amounts of food. From ages 1 to 3, every inch of height should equate to roughly 40 calories of food intake.
Encourage older children to learn what various portion sizes look like.
Build early relationships with healthy foods
Encourage your child to try a variety of different fruits, vegetables, and proteins from an early age. As they grow older, they may be more likely to incorporate these healthy foods into their own diet.
Eat healthy foods as a family
Changing eating habits as a family allows children to experience healthy eating early on. This will make it easier for them to continue following good eating habits as they grow into adults.
Encourage eating slowly and only when hungry
Overeating can happen if you eat when you’re not hungry. This excess fuel eventually becomes stored as body fat and can lead to obesity. Encourage your child to eat only when they feel hungry and to chew more slowly for better digestion.
Limit unhealthy foods in the household
If you bring unhealthy foods into the household, your child may be more likely to eat them. Try to stock the fridge and pantry with healthy foods, and allow less-healthy snacks as a rare “treat” instead.
Incorporate fun and exciting physical activity
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that kids and teens get at least
Limit your child’s screen time
More time spent sitting in front of a screen means less time for physical activity and good sleep. Because exercise and sleep play a role in a healthy weight, it’s important to encourage those activities over computer or TV time.
Make sure everyone is getting enough sleep
Research suggests that both
Know what your child is eating outside of the home
Whether in school, with friends, or while being babysat, children have plenty of opportunities to eat unhealthy foods outside of the home. You can’t always be there to monitor what they eat, but asking questions can help.
Many of these obesity prevention tips are the same for losing or maintaining a healthy weight. The bottom is line that eating a healthy diet and getting more physical activity can help prevent obesity.
Consume less “bad” fat and more “good” fat
Contrary to the belief behind the low-fat diet craze of the ’90s, not all fat is bad.
Consume less processed and sugary foods
According to a
Eat more servings of vegetables and fruits
The daily recommendation for fruit and vegetable intake is five to nine servings per day for adults. Filling your plate with veggies and fruit can help keep calories reasonable and reduce the risk of overeating.
Eat plenty of dietary fiber
Studies continue to show that dietary fiber plays a role in weight maintenance. One
Focus on eating low–glycemic index foods
The glycemic index (GI) is a scale used to measure how quickly a food item will raise your blood sugar. Focusing on low-GI foods can help keep blood sugar levels steadier. Keeping your blood glucose levels steady can help with weight management.
Get the family involved in your journey
Social support isn’t just for children and teens — it’s important for adults to feel supported too. Whether cooking with family or going on walks with friends, getting people involved can help to encourage a healthy lifestyle.
Engage in regular aerobic activity
Incorporating regular physical activity into your schedule is important for maintaining or losing weight, among other benefits. The
Incorporate a weight training regimen
Weight training is just as important to weight maintenance as aerobic activity. In addition to weekly aerobic activity, the WHO recommends weight training that involves all your major muscles at least two times per week.
Focus on reducing daily stress
Stress can have many effects on the body and mind. A
Learn how to food budget and meal prep
It’s much easier to grocery shop for healthy foods when you have a plan. Creating a food budget and list for your shopping trips can help avoid temptations for unhealthy foods. In addition, prepping meals can allow you to have ready-to-go healthy meals.
Preventing obesity plays an important role in good health. Obesity is associated with a long list of chronic health conditions, many of which become more difficult to treat over time. These conditions include:
- metabolic syndrome
- type 2 diabetes
- high blood pressure
- high triglycerides and low “good” cholesterol
- heart disease
- sleep apnea
- gallbladder disease
- sexual health issues
- nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
- mental health conditions
By focusing on obesity prevention and lifestyle changes, it may be possible to slow or prevent the development of these diseases.
Although the research on obesity prevention strategies is limited in the United States, international studies have been able to suggest some answers.
Preventing obesity in adults involves regular physical activity, a decrease in saturated fat intake, a decrease in sugar consumption, and an increase in fruit and vegetable consumption. In addition, family and healthcare professional involvement may help to maintain a healthy weight.
However, only some of these methods have proven to be effective, and there are barriers to using these methods.
A healthy weight is important in maintaining good health. Taking steps to prevent obesity in your daily life is a good first step. Even small changes, such as eating more vegetables and visiting the gym a few times a week, can help to prevent obesity.
If you’re interested in a more tailored approach to your diet, a dietitian or nutritionist can provide you with the tools to get started.
Additionally, meeting with a personal trainer or fitness instructor can help you find the physical activities that work best for your body.