Impact of Childhood Obesity
By Ivy Bagley
I love being a North Carolinian. From our beautiful coast to our great mountains, I am proud to call this state home. Recently, I have been blessed to travel throughout our great state photographing various small towns. I have enjoyed driving down country roads and learning the history of various towns.
However, I am concerned for the people in our state- most especially our children.
We are headed down a dead end road that I fear we may not return from unless we stop and realize we’ve taken a wrong turn. Over sixteen percent of our high school students are impacted by obesity. We place 22 out of 51 states for the impact of both childhood and adult obesity. Nationally, in 2017, we spent $14.1 billion dollars in childhood obesity alone.
We have a problem. This is not a problem we will solve overnight, but it is an issue that I believe we can change. We must make the choices to educate our community members about the overall impact of obesity. We need to reach out to families on all socioeconomic levels and “meet them where they are.” Perhaps it is convincing a parent to take the time to start walking with their child 1-2 days a week. Or, decreasing their child’s screen time. These choices do not make you a “bad parent;” but in fact, allow you to be a part of the change we need to improve our children’s health. Children will follow our examples. If they see parents engaging in physical activity and are encouraged to participate themselves; we will see a change in their choices. We need to offer more free community events that feature healthy food choices. We need to teach parents how to grow healthy food- while providing them community gardens in which to achieve these goals. We need to visit the local Farmer’s Markets and teach kids about various vegetables. We need community events that promote physical activity. Even though I am proposing some bigger community goals; many of the changes can begin at home.
My top five goals I provide families are below.
- Encourage your child to obtain 60 minutes of exercise per day. Go outside, Take the dog for a walk, and enjoy the local parks. When it rains, there are many free online exercise videos families can utilize to still be moving.
- Work to eliminate soda and sweet tea. Added sugar is not necessary for children or adults.
- Measure out portions. Buy measuring cups and show kids what is a serving size and educate on how to identify a true serving size when eating out. Learn as a family unit how to read food labels, identify higher calorie ingredients, and how to overall choose healthier foods.
- Eat more meals at home as a family. There are many simple, healthy meals families can prepare at home. Involve the kids in meal preparation. Teach them how to cook.
- Work to limit screen time to less than an hour a day during the school year and less than two on the weekends. Set up a central charging station for all devices and utilize it daily.
As providers, we do not need to make the choice that it is all about food choices or what a parent is or isn’t doing in the home; but we need to develop understanding obesity is a disease. It requires management on so many levels. Your child’s healthcare provider should provide education and support for your family during this journey. If you have specific questions, ask them to review your child’s overall BMI and health status.
One of the reasons I sought out more education on obesity is I wish to change the trajectory of this disease among my patients and in our community. I have launched a new Facebook page/Blog “Blessed and Healthy Families,” and am committed to helping educate and offer options for families. It is my goal to utilize the certificate of advanced education in obesity medicine I recently achieved, to assist the change the course of obesity for our children. I hope you will join me in this journey. I would love to hear more about what choices your family is making to achieve optimal health. Remember, simple changes add up over time and are key to promoting a lifetime of health.
Ivy M. Bagley, MSN FNP-C IBCLC
Ms. Bagley enjoys seeing patients of all ages at Children’s Health Services. Ms. Bagley has been a part of the CHS team since 2007. There, she manages their social media, teaches CPR/Baby Care classes, and provides patients with after-hours visits through e-visits. She is a board-certified lactation consultant who works with breastfeeding moms/babies through office visits and their online breastfeeding support group. She recently obtained a Certificate of Advanced Education in Obesity Medicine and is an active member in OMA, AANP, ICLA, Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing, and within the community. Recently, she began an online group, “Blessed and Healthy Families,” with the goal of educating families on overall health and well being- with a specific focus on obesity. Ms. Bagley also owns Creative Blessings Photography and serves many local groups through her photography. She enjoys her family and spending time traveling.
As a Christian, Ms. Bagley enjoys spending time at the feet of Jesus. Her life verse is “All things work together for those who love The Lord.” Romans 8:28