About Childhood Obesity

Addressing Childhood Obesity
In the past 30 years, the number of overweight children has doubled. It is now estimated that 1 in 5 children in the U.S. is overweight. Studies have shown that certain populations such as Hispanic, African American and Native Americans are those most affected. Also, while more children are becoming overweight, the heaviest children are getting even heavier. As a result, being overweight is regarded as the most common nutritional disorder of U.S. children and adolescents, and one of the most common problems seen by pediatricians.
Hamburger, hot dog and French fries
Causes of Childhood Obesity
  • Increased consumption of foods that are high in sugar and fat - Today's children eat as much as triple the amount of snack foods their counterparts were consuming just 20 years ago. In addition, there has been a doubling in their soft drink intake in that same time period. To make matters worse, many fast food companies target children in their marketing campaigns and some schools offer soft drinks and junk food to students.
  • Reduced activity levels – With the time that children spend watching TV, using the computer and playing video games, they are getting less exercise.
Fortunately, there is hope for overweight and obese children! With help and the right guidance from the adults in their lives, their weight and health can be improved. It’s up to parents to help their children make healthy choices with food and activities!
Steps You Can Take
  • Don't reward children with food. Candy and snacks as a reward encourage bad habits. Find other ways to celebrate good behavior.
  • Encourage physical activities that children really enjoy. Remember that each child is unique and you may have to experiment with many activities until he or she finds one that is enjoyable.
  • Help children develop a positive self image. Focus on the positives instead of the negatives. Everyone likes to be praised for a job well done.
  • Practice what you preach. If you're practicing healthy habits, it's a lot easier to convince children to do the same. Incorporate healthy activities into the time you spend with children. Everyone will benefit from the exercise and the time together. You can:
    • Garden
    • Go swimming
    • Play hide-and-seek outside
    • Ride bikes
    • Take walks
Family riding bicycles
Advocate for Healthier Foods
Be an advocate for healthier foods. Insist on good food choices at school cafeterias and vending machines. If you are packing a lunch for your child, don’t forget to include fresh fruit, healthy snacks like pretzels and low-fat cheeses. Encourage your child to drink only water or low-fat milk, not juices, sports drinks, or soda. Adding a slice of lemon or orange to water makes it a special but healthy treat. Encourage schools to offer more physical fitness opportunities. Speak to your child’s school principal about opportunities for kids to be active.
Vegetables in produce section
County Programs & Partners
The Cape May County Department of Health offers programming about healthy eating and lifestyles for schools and other community groups. View an overview on our programs. For more information, call 609-465-1225.

The Department of Health partners with several state and county agencies to provide a broad range of educational opportunities for the public. Partners include: