The last decade has introduced a new focus in dieting and weight loss: the fight to overcome childhood obesity. With over 33% of American children tipping the obesity scale, many healthcare professionals have labeled this issue an epidemic that is seriously threatening the overall health of America and the rest of the developed world. A person struggling in adolescence has an 80% likelihood of being obese as an adult. “Being obese increases a child’s risk for some serious childhood medical problems…pre-diabetes, diabetes, heart disease, hyperlipidemia, sleep apnea, bone conditions, gastro-intestinal diseases and psychological problems.” (http://www.med.umich.edu/yourchild/topics/fightobesity.htm). Doctors and dieticians aren’t taking these numbers lightly. Parents are faced with the challenge of helping their children turn their health around through the two main factors: diet and exercise.
Healthy eating habits are crucial for kids’ success. Establishing healthy habits or changing bad ones will allow the child to develop a healthy food lifestyle well into adulthood. But with the amount of sugary beverages, dessert-like breakfast cereals and no-nutrient snacking options, this is a big battle for parents. For parents, it’s important to control the meal options they can and offer sensible options for when they can’t. When children are surrounded by the right foods and positive habits it empowers them to make the right decisions. A few crucial steps parents can take include:
- Replace soda, juices and energy drinks with water, milk and caffeine-free tea options
- Serve a healthy, fulfilling breakfast everyday (BONUS: eat with your kids!)
- Stock up on snacks of fresh fruit, raw veggies, whole grain crackers, nuts and granola bars (but watch the fat and sugar content)
- Bringing kids to the grocery store. They’re more likely to eat options they picked out for themselves and it engages their awareness into making the right decisions outside of the home
- Sit down to dinner every night and eat together
For children, activity and exercise are equally important to changing their lifestyle for the better. Activities that get kids top college papers moving are not only important for their waistlines, but studies have shown that children who get more exercise also perform better in school. Organized sports are great but they aren’t for every child (or family), and it isn’t enough to have a few scheduled hours of activity per week. Below are some great ideas to get your kids moving:
- Adopt “no motor” school days: whether your child walks, runs, bikes, roller skates or skips to school they are challenged to get there using their own energy
- Play more games. As silly as it sounds, tag, hide and seek and other childhood favorites are great ways to get your kids moving and having fun
- Invest in sporting equipment that the whole family can enjoy
- Change the way your family spends time together by swapping movie nights for bike rides, football Sundays for playing catch in the yard and big family dinners for a healthy cooking night.