Childhood obesity is an epidemic in the U.S. today. Thankfully, there is a movement with a goal to prevent childhood obesity. Obesity is just as dangerous for kids as it is for adults. the number of children with Type 2 diabetes, asthma and heart problems has more than tripled in the last 30 years according to the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. These physical ailments are all the result of being overweight and obese, and greatly shorten the life expectancy of our children.
How to Prevent Obesity in Kids
Kids learn a lot about how to eat and exercise from their parents. If one or both parents are obese it is likely that the children will be obese too. The key to fighting obesity is creating a healthy lifestyle. To maintain a healthy weight, parents and children both must lead an active lives and eat well. Today, only one in three children are physically active each day. The #1 way to get kids to be more active is to do it with them. Get outside, away from TV, video games, computers and phones. Go throw a football, play catch with your dog, or ride bikes around the neighborhood. If you live in a large city with little or no yard space, find a park or simply go for walks. As a last resort, pick video games that require physical activity. Wii Fit actually tracks weight and progress towards fitness goals. Dance, Dance Revolution is highly aerobic and fun for kids and adults alike. Get up, get moving, and make it fun!
Eating Habits for Obesity Prevention
Eating habits are also a vital part of a healthy lifestyle. Too often, children consume “convenience foods,” because parents are usually pressed for time. The younger generations are the first generations in history that are slated to not outlive their parents due to health complications that result from childhood obesity. It may take extra effort to plan and prepare healthier meals for kids, but it’s a necessity. Read labels. Limit refined sugars. Feed kids a balanced diet that includes whole grains, fewer white, starchy carbs and tons of fresh fruit and veggies. Oatmeal with fruit, low-sugar cereal or a healthy fruit and yogurt smoothie make easy and healthy breakfasts. You may not be able to turn your kids’ diet around in one day. Start by increasing fresh veggies and fruit and go from there. Definitely cut out or at least limit soda, and keep healthy snacks on hand such as roasted almonds, yogurt, raisins and fresh fruit.
School Lunches Play a Big Part in Childhood Obesity
School lunches could play a role in obesity in children as there are usually a lot of processed options that kids are more likely to choose. The best solution to this is to make their lunches with fresh, healthy food every morning before sending them off to school. If your kids must eat school food, make sure that their breakfast, snacks, and dinner food choices are healthy and balanced. This will ensure that the majority of their nutrition is adequate for the day.
Adding Physical Activity to Education Curriculums
As awareness about childhood obesity grows, more school leaders and educators are incorporating physical activity into their lesson plans. Studies show that healthy children learn better, perform better, and suffer less from ADHD, lethargy and boredom when they get up and move during the school day.
Preventing childhood obesity starts at home, but school systems can either contribute to the epidemic or they can make changes that greatly reduce this problem. Many schools are reporting great success with efforts to make school a healthier place to be. This helps kids eat better, move more, and significantly improve their quality of life. Start by making changes at home, and show your kids that these lifestyle improvements are for you as well as for them. Make getting healthier a team effort, and the results will be amazing!