Preventing Childhood Obesity
The incidence of childhood obesity has risen dramatically in the U.S. in the past twenty years. Obesity in childhood is particularly worrisome because it sets children up for obesity and serious health issues in adulthood, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. While some children are naturally larger than others, being significantly overweight as a child can also lead to mental health and social issues such as depression, low self-esteem and bullying.
Healthy Eating Habits
As a parent, you can guide your children in maintaining a healthy weight by helping them develop healthy eating habits and restricting their access to foods that are high in calories and sugar. Encourage your children to listen to their bodies to know when they are full. This is an important skill that will carry them into adulthood. One of the best ways you can help your children is to make changes for the entire family. Keep in mind that even small changes can make a big difference.
- Provide lots of fruits and vegetables
- Include low-fat or non-fat milk or dairy products
- Choose lean meats such as poultry and fish
- Add lentils and beans for additional low-fat protein options
- Encourage your family to drink lots of water and limit drinks high in sugar such as soda, sports drinks, and juice
- Limit sugar and saturated fat
- Limit calorie-rich snacks
Healthy Snack Ideas for Kids
- Yogurt (look for plain yogurt with no sugar added—top with fruit for natural sweetness)
- Celery with peanut butter and raisins
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Veggies and guacamole or hummus
Not only do children love physical activity, it has many health benefits as well, such as strengthening the bones, lowering blood pressure, reducing stress and anxiety levels, raising self-esteem and assisting with weight management.
Kids 3 to 5 years of age should be active throughout the day. Kids and teens 6 to 17 years old should be active for at least an hour every day. As with healthy eating, do activities that the whole family can enjoy together, like riding bikes, playing basketball, going for a nature walk, or playing Simon Says with commands like jumping jacks or running in place.
Reduce Screen Time
Along with encouraging more physical activity, limiting sedentary activities is also important. It’s recommended that children should watch TV, play video games, or surf the web for no more than 2 hours a day. Kids younger than 2 should not watch any TV. Not only can excess screen time have negative effects on your child’s developing brain, it also contributes to childhood obesity.
Don’t Skimp on Sleep
Not getting enough sleep contributes to childhood obesity because the more tired children are, the less active they want to be and the more food cravings they have. Children need more sleep than adults, but the exact amount varies by age.
Pediatric Nutritionist in Sacramento
The goal for overweight children is to slow the rate of weight gain while also letting them grow and develop appropriately. Children should never be put on a diet without the care of a pediatrician or dietician. If you’re worried that your child is gaining too much weight, make an appointment with us today. Our goal at One Community Health is for you to understand and to ask questions so that you can work with the staff to make informed decisions that will lead to your child’s improved health and wellbeing into adulthood.