Childhood obesity affects millions of children in the United States. It’s no secret that obese children are teased and treated poorly by their peers, but in addition to the adverse affects obesity can have on a child’s social quality of life, children who are obese are at an increased risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease, in addition to apnea, asthma and more.
When we consider why obesity has such a stronghold on our youth, we don’t have to look far or hard for the answers. Today’s children spend more time being sedentary, watching TV, playing video games and using the computer then they do being active. Simply stated, our children are moving less. In addition to not getting enough exercise, our children are often eating foods that are high in sugar and fat. With fast food, soda, juice and processed snacks making up a large portion of many children’s diet, it’s no wonder that our youth are struggling with weight problems.
Fortunately, parents can help obese children improve their weight and their health.
1. Don’t reward your child with food
So often we bribe or entice our children to do something by offering them a special treat. Instead, reward your child with nonfood items.
2. Be a role model
If you want your kids to eat healthy, be a healthy eater. If you want your kids to exercise regularly, incorporate exercise into your daily routine.
3. Encourage physical activity
Whether it be going for a walk as a family or enrolling your child in soccer, find a physical activity that your child loves and provide a way for her to take part in it.
4. Teach your child about food
Teach your child that there are any time foods, sometimes foods, and special occasion foods. For example, anytime foods may be fruits and vegetables, sometimes foods may be meats and cheeses and special occasion foods may be cookies, candy and cake.
5. Don’t force your child to clear his plate
One way we can help our children develop a healthy relationship with food is to let them be full when they are full. Just like adults, children are sometimes more hungry that others and know their intake limit.
6. Limit screen time
The more time your child spends sitting, the less time he spends moving. Limit screen time and encourage active play.
7. Avoid fast food
Make fast food a special occasion treat. While it’s certainly convenient, consider other easy meal options like preparing a stew in the crock pot. When you know you’ll be in the car for an extended period of time, packing sandwiches or healthy snacks is a great way to avoid the temptation to stop.
We all want our children to be healthy and fortunately, when it comes to their weight, we have a significant impact on how healthy our children are. Children can only eat what they are served to them. Present healthy options and encourage your children to make good choices.