With the start of September already here, it is also the start of National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month.
More than 23 million children and teenagers in the US between the ages of 2 to 19 are considered obese or overweight. This is a statistic that medical and health experts consider to be an epidemic.
This puts 1/3 of America’s children at early risk for Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and even stroke. These are typically conditions associated with adulthood. Can you believe that? We live in a society where many chronic diseases and health conditions adults worry about are now something young children have to worry about. It is both a sad and horrible thing.
It is up to all of us to prevent this epidemic from spreading through increasing awareness on an individual level. Living a healthy lifestyle is the first step you can take to help model positive eating habits for your children. Eating right and incorporating daily physical activity into your life should truly be something you start for yourself, but when children enter the equation, you begin to eat healthy not only for yourself, but for your kids too. Eating fresh, whole foods and removing the processed, fried junk from your diet should really start when your children are in the womb. Remember it’s never too early to motivate your kids to eat healthy.
1. Serve Healthy Meals. This is where it begins. The adult is the one in charge of making food choices when a child is young. Prepare healthy meals with fresh vegetables and fruit. Use whole grains and stay away from processed foods. If your child eats healthy at a young age, chances are those same habits will continue through life.
2. Keep Heathy Snacks Around. We all know children to do not always have the best patience in the world. How many times have you found yourself giving a child something very unhealthy because they needed a quick snack. It’s not that big of a deal right? Well, when that same behavior occurs multiple times year after year then it turns into a bigger deal. Eliminate that option all together and buy healthy snacks to keep in the house. This way the quick and easy items will be nutrient dense.
3. Encourage exercise. Get outside and play as a family. Go for a family walk after dinner, ride your bike with your children, play at the park, go on weekend hikes, play sports such as basketball, soccer, or football. My nephew loves to just be outside and run. As long as your moving its physical activity.
4. Limit electronic time. Our world is run by the internet, do not allow your child to get sucked in at such a young age. Limit time they can watch television or play with electronics to 2 hours or less. At a young age, children should want to play outside anyway more than they want to watch t.v.
Let’s all do our part to help kids have a brighter and healthier future.
Happy National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month!
Thanks for Visualizing Nutrition with me!
❤ Rebecca Raymundo, RD, LDN