Health experts would answer that question with a rousing “yes,” and now they have even more evidence to support their assertions.
A new study found that more than half a million 4-year-olds are obese. Even more disturbing, according to researchers, is the finding that nearly a third of American Indian children are obese.
The study’s lead author noted that the findings are “of major concern” among children so young given that obese individuals are at very high risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, cancers, joint diseases and other health problems.
If you are concerned that your child may be at risk for obesity related health issues consider that an individual is only considered obese if their body-mass index is in the 95th percentile or higher based on government BMI growth charts. For 4-year-olds, that would be a BMI of about 18. A girl who is 4 years old, 40 inches tall and 42 pounds would have a BMI of about 18. Meaning she weighs four pounds more than the government’s upper limit for that age, height and gender.
To lessen the risk of children having to battle weight issues so early in life, health experts encourage parents to exercise with their kids. They also suggest parents enroll their children in activities designed to burn calories while having fun, such as soccer, basketball, swimming or little league.
In the case of the obesity study, American Indian schools have created activities for young Indian children to participate in to fight back against modern sedentary ways and give kids a taste of a more active lifestyle. Programs such as summer camps and winter “outdoor days” that have kids braving frigid temperatures to play traditional American Indian games including “snowsnake” have been introduced in the school system. The hope is that kids will learn exercise can be fun and they will adopt healthier habits.