More than 23 million children and teenagers in the U.S. are obese or overweight, a statistic that health and medical experts consider an epidemic. One in three children in America is already obese or overweight and that number is climbing.
Obese children have an 80% chance of becoming obese adults! That statistic is staggering to me! And as a result they are more at risk for health problems such as high blood pressure and cholesterol which are risk factors for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, cancer, asthma, and osteoarthritis. And they also have a much greater risk of social and psychological problems such as discrimination and poor self-esteem, which can continue into adulthood.
All this sounds like doom and gloom but the good news is that it’s entirely preventable! Childhood obesity is not based on genetics- it’s simply the result of eating too many calories and not getting enough physical activity. And it’s up to us adults to set good examples and encourage healthy habits.
These healthy habits begin at home- parents have enormous influence over their children’s lifestyles by the examples they set. I’ve got a 4-yr old daughter myself so I know what it’s like being a parent and making sure we’re leading our children in the right direction and being good role models.
On my recent FOX 23 fitness segment a few days ago I discussed these childhood obesity problems and how to best go about preventing them from happening to our kids.
Here is the link to watch the segment-
And here are 5 tips to help keep your children healthy-
1. Be your child’s role model.
If you want your child to have a healthy lifestyle, they must see you doing the same. You can’t tell your child to exercise and eat healthy if you aren’t exercising and eating healthy. If you don’t like preparing healthy meals and eating vegetables, how can you expect your child to like healthy meals and vegetables? The old adage, “practice what you preach”, holds true in this case. You’ll be much more able to help your child eat healthier and lead a more active lifestyle if you are doing it too!
2. Encourage healthy eating habits.
Some examples include vegetables, fruits, whole-grain products, lean meats, poultry, fish, lentils, and beans. Limit sugar-sweetened beverages and soda. Eat meals together- having family meals together helps adolescents eat more fruits, vegetables, and fiber and fewer fatty foods and soft drinks. Offer treats in moderation and on special occasions such as birthday parties, holidays, amusement park trips, and other infrequent occurrences or celebrations.
3. 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. Studies have found a direct correlation between the number of hours of television that children watch and their risk of obesity. Video games and computer usage contribute to the problem as well.
4. Make exercise FUNctional- encourage them to participate in sports and other activities.
Does your child like playing a particular sport or do they enjoy doing some activity? Find out what your child likes doing. Some children enjoy sports, while others would rather do things such as hiking, walking, bicycling, etc. Encourage your child to participate in the sport or do more of the activity they like. Sneak in exercise! If you make working out into a game or play time, kids will be more interested. Dancing, playing ball, family walks, I spy, riding bikes, skipping, crawling, playing tag, and jumping are all good examples. Some examples for older kids are playing sports, jumping rope, playing outside games, relay races, or running obstacle courses.
5. Schedule outdoor play dates with your child.
Most children get bored and sluggish if they are left alone and don’t have other kids to play with. Schedule play dates with your children to get everyone active and spend some quality family time together while being productive.
Be sure and watch my recent FOX 23 fitness segment where I discussed all these tips and gave some other good examples!
Here is the link to the video-
To a healthy and happy family!
Clint Howard, MS is the Founder/Director of Tulsa Fitness Systems located in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Clint has a Bachelors degree in Health & Exercise Science and a Masters degree in Exercise Physiology, both from the University of Oklahoma. Clint is a certified personal trainer through the National Strength & Conditioning Association and American College of Sports Medicine and is also a Certified Boot Camp Instructor through the National Exercise & Sports Trainers Association and a certified golf fitness expert through the Titleist Performance Institute.