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Obesity is on the rise in the U.S., especially among children. Children who are overweight are more likely to be overweight as adults. Obesity has a string of serious consequences which can lead to more serious health issues such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and cardiovascular disease. Preventing obesity in your child is vital to helping them grow to lead healthy adult lives. September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness month and we’ve gathered our top tips on helping prevent obesity in your child.
Limit screen time & encourage them to be physically active
Kids are far more sedentary today than in previous generations. It is important to limit the amount of TV, iPad, video game and internet time your child has throughout the day and week. Children are recommended to get at least one hour of physical activity a day. Encouraging kids to play outside and planning to “move more” as a family is a great way to ensure they are staying active. Taking walks after dinner, biking to school or planning a family hike on the weekend are great physical activities to do with the kids.
Set a good example
Parents are the most influential individuals in a child’s life. It’s important that you are mindful of setting a good example for your kids when it comes to health and fitness. One of the best ways to help your child engage in healthy habits is for them to see you being healthy. Show them that exercising daily, eating fruits and vegetables, whole grain and lean meats is the norm and they will be more likely to adopt these habits.
Don’t use food as a reward
Giving your children sweets or junk food can be an effective way to get them to do something but in the long run this habit can have serious consequences. Using foods such as ice cream, cookies or chips as a reward makes them more appealing to kids and enables emotional eating habits. This habit can lead your child to develop an emotional connection to unhealthy foods, using them as an emotional reward for themselves as an adult and not as a way to gain nutritional value and satisfy hunger. These foods are typically high in calories, fats and sugar and low in nutritional value. High consumption of these types of foods can result in health problems such as obesity and diabetes.
Educate them about food
Take time to teach your kids about food. Remind them that food is fuel for the body. Let them be involved in the choosing and preparing meals. Allowing your children to have a choice (no matter how small) in what they eat will give them a sense of control and when they are involved in preparing some of the meal they are more likely to try new things. Education on food and nutrition is one life skill not often taught in schools that you can help cultivate in an effort to develop healthy eating habits.