Tackling Childhood Obesity in the Black Community

May we raise our babies with our indigenous love, rather than with our colonial pain”

@indigenousmotherhood

You know the saying, “When white folks catch a cold, Black folks get pneumonia?” The same can be said when discussing childhood obesity. Childhood obesity rates grew 50% between 1986 and 1998 for white American children, but a whopping 120% for African American children. 35.9% of all African American children between the ages of 2-19 are overweight or obese, compared to only 29.3% of our white counterparts.

Obesity impacts our children’s physical, mental and emotional health. Just like adults, obesity in children increases their risk for serious and life-threatening health issues such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and asthma. Obesity can also negatively impact their self-esteem, self-confidence, social interactions, and academic performance at school. But there are 3 specific lifestyle changes that parents and caregivers can implement to bring health and healing to their children’s lives.

Drink More Water

Water is the body’s most essential nutrient. The human body is comprised of about 75% water. Water prevents DNA damage, clears toxic waste from cells, and integrates the mind and body functions.  Water promotes healthy weight management and weight loss. Children are at risk of dehydration and a feeling of hunger is often mistaken for thirst. At a minimum, children should drink half their body weight in ounces of water daily. Sugary drinks, juice, pop/soda, and cow’s milk should be eliminated from their diet as they have no nutritional value and contain empty calories that can easily result in chronic dehydration and weight gain.

Portion Control & Mindful Eating

Avoid forcing children to clean their plates. This severs the innate connection between their brain and the physiological recognition of hunger and fullness. Practice mindful eating where electronic devices and tv is not associated with eating. Serve them food on smaller plates to practice portion control. If they request seconds, wait 2-3 minutes, and confirm they want more. This will help with the “eyes bigger than my stomach” dilemma and they will learn to listen to their body’s true need for more food.

Sunshine & Sleep

Children ages 5-12 require 9-12 hours of sleep nightly. The effects of sleep deprivation start to take affect after only 3 nights of insufficient sleep. One of the most subtle yet unknown causes of weight gain is insufficient sleep. Not getting enough sleep also causes poor concentration, memory and focus and anxiety. Ensure your children are getting the sleep they need. As melanin rich beings, sunshine is indispensable to our health. There have been studies that show sunlight can slow the development of diabetes, shrink fat cells, and aid in weight loss. At a minimum, African Americans require 2 hours of sun, 4 days a week.

As parents, we have the power to give our children the gift of healthy weight and optimal health. But we can’t give them something we don’t have. I just released my 10th book, “Change Your Life, Forever, For Free, Right Now: 5 Ways to Avoid Sickness, Dis-ease, and Premature Death. This book is an easy, must read if you are sick and tired of being sick and tired and want to change your life today.

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