There are millions of parents out there who, like me, worry about their children’s weight and the weight of children in general.
- 16 percent of children (over 9 million) 6-19 years old are overweight or obese
- In the last 3 decades the childhood obesity rate has tripled for children aged 6-11 years.
- Overweight adolescents have a 70 percent chance of becoming overweight or obese adults. This increases to 80 percent if one or more parent is overweight or obese.
- For children born in the United States in 2000, the lifetime risk of being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes at some point in their lives is estimated to be about 30 percent for boys and 40 percent for girls.
(Statistics taken from National Association of Children’s Hospitals, based on a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Study, 2006)
In The Girl Revolution Fit Girl Series, we want to make sure our children are at an optimized weight for their life long health. We’re concerned with the health related habits our children develop that will either burden them or carry them through their adult lives. In many cases, we’re struggling with weight issues ourselves. We can see how our own habits have contributed not just our own weight issues, but to our children’s.
When Ainsley was 5-years-old the doctor told me Ainsely was in the BMI Red Zone. Of course, I thought that doctor was insane. She LOOKED perfectly normal (to her mother). After the shock and denial (and a little indignation), I researched early puberty and that was what tipped me over the edge into Serious Action. Ainsley is back in the “normal” range, barely. But, this is an ongoing process that should last her entire childhood and adolescence, so that when she goes off to college she’ll have already established an active healthy lifestyle.
As we’ll see in the Fit Girl Series – there is a link between early puberty and weight. Specifically, puberty happens at around 100-110 pounds, according to Dr. Teresa Knight, an Ob/Gyn and others I interviewed. The faster your daughter gets to that weight, the earlier she develops breasts and starts menstruating. Early puberty is the number one risk factor for breast cancer.
To diagram that: early weight gain = increased chance of early puberty = higher breast cancer risk.
But, let’s get even more honest here. The best thing about being a 30-something, slightly pudgy married mother of two is that the amount of sexual harassment from strangers, coworkers and random jerks has drastically reduced. Yet it happens to girls the minute they hit puberty and begin developing breasts. If you forgot what it was like, or want to believe it doesn’t happen anymore or your daughter will be immune to it, go read this essay by Latoya Peterson at Racialicious, Not Rape. (Brings back memories – not good.)
What would I do to keep my 8, 9, 10 year old from having an adult body, which might result in increased sexual harassment from boys her age and grown men?
I’d get pretty damn serious about her exercise and eating habits to prevent early puberty. Would you?
That’s what I’m inviting other parents to do during The Girl Revolution Fit Girl Series. We’ll talk about the medical information and health risks to our daughters, the social implications surrounding girls’ bodies, we’ll examine the best ways to approach weightloss or maintaining weight without creating new body image issues or harming self-esteem. I’ll share some tools and tactics I’ve tried in our family to aid our change in lifestyle, and hopefully you’ll have a lot of great tips to share too.
It’s still January and it’s not too late. Maybe you’ve made a Family New Year’s Resolution. Maybe you’ve made personal New Year’s Resolution that involves your own lifestyle, eating or activity level. Maybe not.
The resolve for 2009 at The Girl Revolution is Fit Family = Fit Girl.