Good eating and exercise habits are essential building blocks for a healthy life. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 17% of children in the United States are obese, which is triple the rate of just one generation ago. Kids who are obese or overweight are more likely to be obese adults, which can lead to diabetes, heart disease, and some types of cancer. Plus, children with weight problems are likely to deal with discrimination, bullying, and poor self-esteem.
So how can you help your child avoid obesity?
Aim for 5-2-1-0.
5- Make sure your child has five or more servings of fruit and vegetables per day. I know some kids are picky eaters and they don’t want to eat anything they’re supposed to, but it can help if you set the example and eat well. It can also help to keep carrot sticks, apples, celery, grapes, and other healthy snacks eye-level in the fridge or cabinets for easier access.
2- Limit the amount of time your child spends watching TV and playing video games to two hours or less. Trust me; I know how easy it is to get sucked into your favorite shows! But, if you take the time your kids usually spend watching TV and have them go outside and play tag, or go for a walk with your dog, they’ll be healthier.
1- Be sure your child has at least one hour of physical activity every day. There are a ton of activities kids can participate in -- playing with the family pet, riding a bike, taking a walk, and playing a sport. Playing these games with other kids in the neighborhood can also help your child make new friends!
0- This is the number of sugary drinks children should have. Encourage your children to drink water and low-fat milk instead. If you are going to give your kids juice, be sure it’s 100% juice. Too many drinks that end in “ade”, “drink”, or “punch” often contain just 5% juice and have few nutritional benefits.
For more information on childhood obesity, visit the CDC’s pages on childhood obesity or make an appointment to see your child’s pediatrician.
By Kayla Murphy