What Parents Should Know about Childhood Obesity
The numbers on childhood obesity in the United States are frightening. Over 25% of pre-school aged children are overweight or obese. One in five children is overweight or obese by the time they start school. Chronic obesity from such an early age puts children at greater risk for diabetes, heart disease and cancer. For parents, knowing how to help children develop healthy lifestyle habits is the key to prevention.
Tips for Preventing Obesity in Young Children
Living a healthy lifestyle needs to begin early in life. One of the best ways to do that is for parents to model good habits for their children to follow. That includes:
Staying active and developing a healthy attitude toward exercise. Helping kids find activities they can enjoy for a lifetime is important. Not every child will enjoy the sports typically found in pre-school intramural programs such as soccer and baseball. Consider other activities such as hiking so they learn to love nature, swimming, tennis and golf.
Keep healthy snacks visible. Baskets of fruit on the counter, bags of veggies cut up and ready to grab and go and individual yogurt and applesauce packs at a child’s eye level in the refrigerator are a great way to instill healthy eating habits.
Ban sodas and sugary fruit drinks from your home. Opt for water and skim milk instead. It might help to keep slices of lemon and lime kids can add to their water for a little extra flavor.
Plan family outings that encourage everyone to keep moving. It might be a hike at a local park, a canoe trip or sailing lessons.
Limit the amount of “screen time” for your children. That includes watching television, playing video games and computer activities.
Join the Let’s Move Initiative
The Let’s Move Initiative was started by First Lady Michelle Obama to assist families and child care providers with understanding how to give kids a healthy start. Their website shares a wide variety of healthy living resources ranging from nutrition to planting a vegetable garden. Best of all there is no cost to join!