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Healthy habits to combat childhood obesity

Before and After BMI

March 24, 2016

Healthy habits to combat childhood obesity

Childhood obesity in America is now 3 times what it was in 1980. Junk food, lack of water & prolonged media time are all culprits.

The obesity epidemic in America has received a lot of attention in recent years. Nearly 18% of children and teens in the U.S. are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control. This figure is three times what it was in 1980, showing that we have a lot of room for improvement.

Health risks of childhood obesity

In addition to an overweight child’s high likelihood of becoming an obese adult, other health risks include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Respiratory problems
  • High cholesterol
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heart disease

Combat childhood obesity with healthy habits

Suddenly cracking down on obesity with strict rules could be detrimental to a happy home, not to mention your child’s health. Remember, a restrictive diet may do more harm than good if it fails to supply the energy and nutrients your child needs to grow and develop normally. For this reason, you should speak with your pediatrician before drastically altering your child’s diet in any way.

The goal is to make healthy living fun, not feel like a chore. Encourage the entire family to adopt the following healthy habits to combat childhood obesity:
Limiting your children’s time with TV, Internet, video games and screens in general is better for their brains.

Limit media time

The average American child watches almost three hours of TV per day. This doesn’t include watching DVDs and playing video games. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting children’s total media time to one or two hours per day.

Combat childhood obesity by ensuring your children go for walks, play in the park & adopt a healthy lifestyle early in life!

Get active

Most kids aren’t interested in going to the gym. Fortunately, there are plenty of less structured ways for them to get the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity each day, especially with summer coming up. Go for a family walk or bike ride, play volleyball in the yard, sign your kids up for soccer or play at the park. When the weather cools off again in the fall, opt for indoor activities, such as rock climbing, gymnastics, indoor swimming and even fitness video games.

Preparing healthy meals for the whole family encourages healthy eating habits later in life!

Prepare healthier meals for everyone

Never hand your child an apple while you grab a candy bar for yourself. This “do as I say, not as I do” mentality is never successful. Instead, get the whole family on board with healthier breakfasts, after-school snacks and dinners. Strive to serve fruits and vegetables with every meal, and limit fatty foods and added sugars.

Kids and water go together like peanut butter and jelly! Make sure your kids stay hydrated to help keep them healthy.

Drink water

Juices and carbonated drinks are mainstays in many American homes, but the added sugar in these drinks is a major cause of childhood obesity. Save calories (and money!) by serving tap water whenever possible. Carbonated flavored water, low-fat milk and tea are healthier replacements if plain water won’t cut it.

Get kids involved with the shopping and the menu-planning so they can adopt healthy eating habits early on.

Get the kids involved

With summer vacation coming up, now is the perfect time to adopt a healthier meal plan. Then, when summer arrives, you can get your kids involved in the meal-making process. Nutrition education helps them understand what’s in the food they eat and recognize the value of adopting healthier eating habits, both now and into adulthood.

Important considerations

As you try to help your obese teen or child become healthier, remember to focus on good health, not achieving a certain weight. Never put your child down for how much he or she weighs, as this could negatively affect body image. Instead, teach and model healthy habits without the emphasis on body weight.

For more individualized tips to keep your kids and the entire family healthy, be sure to talk to your doctor.

You might also be interested in: How Food Can Affect Your Stress Levels