PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — While COVID-19 remains a national health concern, another problem has been looming in the United States for years; obesity.
September is National Childhood Obesity Month; in children, obesity can cause mental and physical health complications.
These are things health professionals at the Institute of Endocrinology in Panama City see often and feel passionate about fixing.
“I do see childhood obesity on a daily basis,” said Family CNR Ashli Brooks. “It burdens me deeply because some of these things we can easily prevent.”
She’s talking about health concerns stemming from obesity, like depression and low-self esteem, as well as early-onset type two diabetes and even heart disease.
“The things that we would see as an adult, we can see in our teenagers and our children,” Brooks said.
According to the Department of Health in Bay County, one in ten children over the age of two are obese and more than one in ten middle and high school students are too. COVID-19 hasn’t helped.
“Everyone’s calling it the COVID weight gain,” said Kay Mulligan-Judah, The Women, Infant and Children (WIC) Department Director at the Health Department. “I think everyone from toddlers all the way to adults are having that and that’s where we really have to encourage the exercise.”
Brooks and Mulligan-Judah also said sugar consumption is a major contributor to the problem, since sugar that is not burned off through exercise turns into fat.
“Children that come in drinking sodas, sweet teas, kool-aids, even gatorade, if we can just pull that out of their diet it’s amazing how much that can really attribute to the obesity factor,” Mulligan-Judah said.
They said that adding more activity to everyday routines is also a way to prevent obesity and developing long-term health complications. Both the Health Department and the Institute of Endocrinology are available for additional resources.