Childhood obesity is epidemic in the United States. As of 2006, 12.4% of children aged 2-5 were obese. 17% of children aged 6-11 and 17.6% of children aged 12-19 are obese (NHANES 2006). As a nation, we are seeing more and more young children with Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Research has shown that parents and family members are vital in combating this epidemic that is leading our children to shorter life expectancies then ever before.
Parents and family members are vital in helping young ones develop good habits that will be carried throughout their life. Children model the behaviors they see the most. If an adult turns up their nose at fruits and vegetables, chances are a child will too.
As the primary food shopper and preparer, parents should be encompassing good habits that their children will then mimic. A child will not know double cheeseburgers if they are never introduced to them.
Use the resources below to help engage and encourage your child into good nutrition and physical activity habits that will help them succeed in life.
What Can You Do As A Parent or Guardian to Help Prevent Childhood Obesity?
(Adapted from Healthy Weight, It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle! http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/children)
Encourage healthy eating habits.
- Provide plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole-grain products.
- Include low-fat or non-fat milk or dairy products.
- Choose lean meats, poultry, fish, lentils, and beans for protein.
- Serve reasonably-sized portions.
- Encourage your family to drink lots of water.
- Limit sugar-sweetened beverages.
- Limit consumption of sugar and saturated fat.
Remember that small changes every day can lead to a recipe for success!
Look for ways to make favorite dishes healthier.
The recipes that you may prepare regularly, and that your family enjoys, with just a few changes can be healthier and just as satisfying. For new ideas about how to add more fruits and vegetables to your daily diet, check out the recipe database from the FruitsandVeggiesMatter.gov. This database enables you to find tasty fruit and vegetable recipes that fit your needs.
Remove calorie-rich temptations!
Although everything can be enjoyed in moderation, reducing the calorie-rich temptations of high-fat and high-sugar, or salty snacks can also help your children develop healthy eating habits. Instead only allow your children to eat them sometimes, so that they truly will be treats! Here are examples of easy-to-prepare, low-fat and low-sugar treats that are 100 calories or less:
- A medium-size apple
- A medium-size banana
- 1 cup blueberries
- 1 cup grapes
- 1 cup carrots, broccoli, or bell peppers with 2 tbsp. hummus
Help kids stay active.
Children and teens should participate in at least 60 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity most days of the week, preferably daily.11 Remember that children imitate adults. Start adding physical activity to your own daily routine and encourage your child to join you.
Some examples of moderate intensity physical activity include:
- Brisk walking
- Playing tag
- Jumping rope
- Playing soccer
Reduce sedentary time.
In addition to encouraging physical activity, help children avoid too much sedentary time. Although quiet time for reading and homework is fine, limit the time your children watch television, play video games, or surf the web to no more than 2 hours per day. Additionally, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not recommend television viewing for children age 2 or younger.12 Instead, encourage your children to find fun activities to do with family members or on their own that simply involve more activity