Americans are getting heavier and it’s starting at an earlier age than in the past. The month of September is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month and we want to do our part in raising awareness of this growing trend and provide helpful information.
What can I do to help my child stay at a healthy weight?
A balance of healthy eating and physical activity are the best way to prevent your child from becoming overweight or obese as an adult. This sounds quite simple right? You can help your children make healthier eating choices by limiting the junk food that you buy at the store, so you won’t have it on hand at home when your child reaches for a snack. Spending more active quality time together as a family is also important.
Remember: you are a role model.
Parents are often the most important role models for children. When you choose to eat right and be physically active, your child will be more likely to make those choices, too.
Why do I need to worry about my child’s weight?
Being overweight or obese as a child can lead to serious problems, like:
- Heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Sleep problems
- Low self-esteem
- Getting bullied
Being overweight as a child increases the risk of being overweight or obese as an adolescent and a young adult. Because children grow at different rates, it’s not always easy to tell if your child is at a healthy weight. Healthy weight is defined differently for children and teens than it is for adults. Ask your child’s doctor whether your child is at a healthy weight.
What if my child is overweight or obese?
Successful weight management programs for kids include counseling and education about eating a healthy diet and being physically active. Parents have an important role to play in these programs, too by helping your child make healthy choices.
Make sure your child gets at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. It doesn’t have to be 60 minutes all at once – it can be shorter activities that add up to an hour a day. Fun activities that children do on their own are best. Playing tag, riding bikes, and shooting hoops are great ways for kids to get moving.
Be sure your child is doing different types of activity, including:
- Aerobic activities, like running, skipping, or dancing;
- Muscle-strengthening activities, like climbing playground equipment or trees;
- Bone-strengthening activities, like jumping rope or playing basketball.
We’ll cover more helpful hints on how to get your kids off the couch and staying healthy in our next post.