Your Child’s Bones Benefit From Healthy Weight

Obesity in childhood can threaten your child’s musculoskeletal health. We explain the risks, and the preventative measures parents can take.

Healthy weight is part of a healthy lifestyle at every age. Over the last 30 years, there has been a worrying increase in the number of children and adolescents diagnosed as overweight or obese. The causes of childhood obesity can be complex. In addition to consuming too many calories and not getting enough exercise, genetics and environment can also contribute to weight problems.

Today in the United States, approximately one in eight preschoolers are obese. Unhealthy weight in childhood can develop into problems including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, pulmonary disease, and sleep problems. In addition, overweight children may experience vitamin deficiencies, hormonal imbalances, and stress that can affect the growth and health of bones, joints, and muscles.

During childhood, bones grow in size and strength. Excess weight can damage the growth plates, areas of developing cartilage tissue at the end of long bones that determine the length and shape of bones at maturity. Too much weight stresses the growth plate, and can lead to arthritis, increased risk of broken bones, and other serious conditions.

Parents can encourage fitness and bone health by providing a well-balanced, calcium-rich diet including milk, yogurt, cheese, and leafy green vegetables. Children also benefit from 30 to 60 minutes of weight-bearing and cardiovascular exercise every day. Proper diet and exercise are two preventative measures you can take to support your child’s healthy weight and maintain strong bones for an active happy life.

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