Children, Dogs, and Obesity?

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A guest post from Tricia Montgomery, founder of K9 Fit Club.

As an overweight child growing up was not the easiest. From chants of “Fatty Patty, two by four, couldn’t get through the bathroom door”, laughter, teasing, the last person picked for any team in gym class, to the teenage years with taunts and mocking as I grew older. My senior year of high school ended with a prank and being “stood up for senior prom……kids can be cruel. My comfort, my friend and my strength was food. Being the youngest of three girls, who unfortunately for me, did not have a weight problem, my parents tried everything, from Weight Watchers, signing me up for team sports to restricting activities if I had not lost weight, you name it and they tried it. It wasn’t until many years later, after I had a dog, that the time came for me to dig deep, find true strength, muttivation and change. Imagine if I had known then what I know now.

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As it turns out, our best friend can also be a powerful tool in the battle against childhood obesity. Children with dogs get 50% more physical activity than those children without a dog. Dogs make them move more, whether taking the dog for a walk, a game of catch or simply spending time in play with the dog. Meaning, they are less likely to spend hours watching TV or playing video games and more time with their dog. Additionally, teaching children that dogs, just like them, can’t play as much, are more apt to have injuries, not to mention a shorter life span, are all part of the learning process.

Obesity Article Stephen Sally

This also includes finding healthy parallels, from nutrition to portion control, which can assist the child as they learn to understand the importance of exercise and nutrition as they grow older. According to Deborah Linder, D.V.M., a research assistant professor and the head of the Tufts Obesity Clinic for Animals at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, “There are many facets to childhood obesity that can make it difficult for kids to adhere to healthy habits and individualized weight loss plans. Pets may be able to offer motivation and unconditional support that will help children stay committed to their weight reduction goals.” Our four-legged friends are great motivators, and not just for kids. Past research has shown that adults with dogs exercise 34% more than those without a dog and take on average 25 percent more steps per day than those without dogs.

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K9 Fit Club is a tremendous platform to encourage both children and parents to get off their butt and with their mutt! Working out with your dog is good for all members of your family as it benefits you, your child and your four-legged friend! Pet ownership also takes a lot of responsibility and a whole lot of love … which is paws down the best part of all! Not only will you be bringing much joy and added hours of physical activity to all members of the family, but you are helping K9 Fit Club in our mission to help lower obesity across the nation. Together we can make an impact on the obesity epidemic and you, as a K9 Fit Club Certified Trainer, are part of the solution!

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