It’s no secret that, in the United States, the number of overweight children and teens has continued to rise over the past two decades. You may wonder: What steps are being taken to address this trend? No surprises here either. We are eating out more, keeping the video game industry in the black and arming every child old enough to walk with a sidekick.
The result of our habits will soon lead to a nation filled with overweight kids who grow up to be obese adults living off of fast food and content with a sedentary lifestyle. But, the problem doesn’t end here. Being overweight may lead to heart disease, caused by high cholesterol and/or high blood pressure; type 2 diabetes; asthma; sleep apnea; and social discrimination.
As grim as this may sound, there are some steps that parents, teachers, coaches and other concerned adults can take to help prevent overweight in our children. The five tips below are a start in the right direction.
1. Encourage healthy eating habits.
To help kids develop healthy eating habits:
- Provide plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole-grain products.
- Include low-fat or non-fat milk or dairy products.
- Choose lean meats, poultry, fish, lentils, and beans for protein.
- Serve reasonably-sized portions.
- Encourage kids to drink lots of water.
- Limit sugar-sweetened beverages.
- Limit consumption of sugar and saturated fat.
Remember that small changes every day can lead to a recipe for success!
2. Look for ways to make favorite dishes healthier.
The recipes that you may prepare regularly, and that your family enjoys, with just a few changes can be healthier and just as satisfying. For new ideas about how to add more fruits and vegetables to your daily diet check out the recipe database from the FruitsandVeggiesMatter.gov. This database enables you to find tasty fruit and vegetable recipes that fit your needs.
3. Remove calorie-rich temptations!
Although everything can be enjoyed in moderation, reducing the calorie-rich temptations of high-fat and high-sugar, or salty snacks can also help kids develop healthy eating habits. Instead only allow your children to eat them sometimes, so that they truly will be treats! Here are examples of easy-to-prepare, low-fat and low-sugar treats that are 100 calories or less:
- A medium-size apple
- A medium-size banana
- 1 cup blueberries
- 1 cup grapes
- 1 cup carrots, broccoli, or bell peppers with 2 tbsp. hummus
4. Help kids stay active.
Children and teens should participate in at least 60 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity most days of the week, preferably daily. In addition to being fun for children and teens, regular physical activity has many health benefits, including: strengthening bones, decreasing blood pressure, reducing stress and anxiety, increasing self-esteem, and helping with weight management.
Some examples of moderate intensity physical activity include:
- Brisk walking
- Playing tag
- Jumping rope
- Playing soccer
If you are interested in joining the Intenz Athletix basketball program, send us a note through the “Contact” page.
5. Reduce sedentary time.
In addition to encouraging physical activity, help children avoid too much sedentary time. Although quiet time for reading and homework is fine, limit the time your children watch television, play video games, or surf the web to no more than 2 hours per day. Also encourage your children to find fun activities to do with family members or on their own that simply involve more activity.