Cutting Calories to Reduce Childhood Obesity Rates

Cutting Calories to Reduce Childhood Obesity Rates

Scary Statistics on Childhood Obesity

If children are not taught to control their food consumption, about one of five will become obese by the year 2020.

There is a need to lower the rate of childhood obesity in America. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is targeting to reduce the current childhood obesity rate of 16.9 percent to 14.6 percent by 2020. To reach this target, the action plan is to have the children who are 2 to 19 years old cut 64 calories from their daily diet.

If the children will continue to have their usual calorie intake, by 2020 the average teen or child will be 4 pounds heavier and the rate of childhood obesity will be 20 percent.

Reducing calories by how much

You may think that reducing 64 calories is not such a big deal. But it can do so much, especially for kids who are at a greater risk of obesity.

Addressing the issue is not just about cutting the calorie intake, but increasing the calorie output of the kids as well to get closer to the goal of obesity reduction.

It will take comprehensive efforts to reduce calorie intake and/or increase physical activity of the kids. Reducing 64 calories per day is the average required to achieve the 2020 goal. Some children may need to reduce more or less calories.

For white children, the needed reduction is 46 calories on average. For Mexican-Americans, it is 91 calories and for black children, it is 138 calories since they have more children who are obese. Youngsters who belong to low-income communities would need to cut more calories also since they have higher obesity rates than in higher-income communities.

Suggested action steps

Here are some suggestions by researchers to help American children reduce their calorie intake.

Serve water instead of sugar-sweetened drinks in school to possibly reduce calorie intake by 12 calories a day. Banning sugary beverages outside of the school could also help.
Requiring the kids who are 9 to 11 years to participate in a physical education program can cut 19 calories from their total calories per day.
The community can provide after-school activities for kids in kindergarten to 5th grade to possibly reduce 25 calories a day.

Photo credits: Gaulsstin via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

Categories: Health