Physical health and safety are among the most important factors in complete children’s health in part because they create an essential foundation for children's overall future health. For example, good nutrition for each individual begins with the diet of pregnant mothers and is necessary for the healthy development of both brain and body. Similarly, physical safety, a healthy lifestyle, and regular visits to a pediatrician are essential for helping children survive their most vulnerable years of life and thrive in the future.
Risk Prevention for Children in Low-Income Countries and Communities
Carefully monitoring children’s physical health is especially crucial in low-income countries and communities because children there are at higher risk for injury, disease, and death. Kids in these places face greater environmental hazards and are more likely to experience poor nutrition, risk for disease, and other factors that threaten their lives and futures. Here are just a few of the reasons caregivers and communities must pay close attention to the physical health of children:
Prevent or address illness and disease. Globally, children under the age of 5 are most vulnerable to certain morbidity factors, or diseases like malaria, pneumonia, diarrhea, HIV, and tuberculosis. For older children, non-transmissible diseases, injuries, and violent political conflicts are the greatest sources of harm. This is why it’s important to ensure that young children have a safe environment, nutritious food, clean drinking water, immunizations, and routine medical screening and care.
Lower the risk of death. Because children under the age of 5 are at the highest risk of death, it’s particularly critical to monitor their physical health in early childhood, especially since the greatest causes of mortality risk are also largely preventable or treatable. US child mortality currently surpasses that of other high-income countries, with gun violence being one major cause. Race, income, and education level are strong predictors of infant mortality and risk-taking behaviors among children and adolescents.
Prevent or correct obesity. Children who are overweight or obese are at increased risk for developing non-communicable diseases like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and some forms of cancer. Risk factors for excess weight and obesity include poor diet and exercise habits. Poor diet is often caused by food insecurity, and inadequate physical activity is frequently the result of unsafe neighborhoods, lack of parks, and busy parents who lack the time to facilitate safe exercise for their children.
Ensure balanced nutrition. In addition to preventing obesity, healthy nutrition and proper hydration in children is essential for good cognitive function and mood, both of which help children perform at school and in physical activities. A balanced diet also helps to promote bone strength and prevent iron deficiencies and dental cavities.
Promote healthy physical activity. Getting enough exercise not only helps children avoid becoming overweight or obese, but is important for motor development, especially for pre-school-aged kids. Physical activity also helps kids to stay alert, which boosts their cognitive development and academic performance. Learning and practicing new motor skills (such as for sports) additionally boosts children’s confidence. Finally, playing games with others is a great way for kids to build healthy social skills and relationships.
Reduce the risk of injury. After the age of 1, a major common cause of death for children is unintentional injury. Kids from low-income families are more likely to be injured or die in drowning accidents, vehicle accidents, or fires. Such families are often less able to afford safety equipment or required maintenance for bicycles and vehicles and may have less control over domestic building safety (such as in rented homes). Monitoring children and prioritizing safety can go a long way toward preventing injury.
Help Keep Kids Healthy With BeamUp
High-quality education, healthcare, and other support systems are extremely important for helping young people prepare for a bright future. BeamUp offers programming to help underinvested youth succeed in every aspect of life. Our goal is to provide opportunities for youth and young adults of lower socioeconomic status to equip themselves with the tools needed to lift themselves out of poverty and violence.