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Helping North Dakota Tackle Children's Obesity

North Dakota health experts warn that, due to a rise in childhood obesity, the next generation could live shorter lives than their parents. (iStockphoto)
North Dakota health experts warn that, due to a rise in childhood obesity, the next generation could live shorter lives than their parents. (iStockphoto)
September 6, 2016

BISMARCK, N.D. - September is National Childhood Obesity Month, and North Dakota health experts say today's young people could become the first generation to live shorter lives than their parents. According to the American Heart Association, one in three children is obese or at risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, diseases that used to only affect adults.

Doctors, including Stephanie Antony at Essentia Health in Fargo, said parents can help by encouraging kids to eat healthier and stay more active.

"A lot of it is a change in society where there's more availability of higher fat, less healthy foods," she explained. "A lot of kids are more sedentary, whether they're on the computer for a lot of the day and not getting out and doing the hour activity that they should be getting."

According to a 2015 study called The State of Obesity, North Dakota was ranked the ninth-most obese state in the country.

Doctor Antony said the negative health effects of childhood obesity can last throughout a young person's life. But those issues can be addressed early on.

"You end up having to treat those children for these diseases for a longer period of time," she said. "And some of these kids, if they end up having some of the complications of these diseases, will live shorter lives than their parents. So, we're really trying to do what we can to prevent that."

To help kids stay healthy, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents should limit screen time to about two hours a day for older children, and help their children get at least one hour of physical activity every day.

Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - ND