One in 5 children in the United States have obesity. Childhood obesity puts kids at risk for health problems that were once only seen in adults like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. Not only are obese children at a higher risk to become obese adults, but the risk factors associated with weight are more likely to be severe.
Children who suffer from obesity are also at a higher risk for having lower self-esteem, being the target of bullying, and potential depression or behavioral issues.
According to the CDC, childhood obesity is influenced by numerous factors. For many families, obesity may be a result of too much time spent being inactive, lack of sleep and easy access to high calorie, low nutrient foods and sugary beverages.
Though, the good news is, that childhood obesity can be prevented through simple lifestyle changes. In honor of National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, Liberty HealthShare encourages your family to make better choices to curb childhood obesity together.
Here are some simple steps your family can try today,
- Be a role model. Children learn by example and they will follow your lead. Be positive about healthy living and work together as a family, supporting each other is a great set up for success.
- Try new, healthy foods as a family. Opt for healthier alternatives such whole grains, lean meats and lots of fruits and veggies! Don't cut dessert, replace it with a nutritious alternative that can satisfy a sweet tooth without excessive sugar. Be mindful that it may take children longer to become accustom to new foods, so don't give up if they are not receptive the first time around!
- Make water a first choice. Encourage your family to drink more water and less juice and soda.
- Watch portion sizes and check for hidden sugars. To control portion sizes try serving meals on smaller dishes and downsize orders when eating out. In addition to portion control, make sure to be on the look out for hidden sugars. High sugar content can be found in many breads, canned soups, kids' snacks and low-fat meals. Check labels and choose products with fresh ingredients.
- Get active! Increase physical activity by biking around the neighborhood, taking a nature walk or playing at the park.
- Limit screen time. Keep time spent on the computer, watching TV, or playing video games to 2 hours or less a day.
- Be patient. It takes time to build better habits and transition to active, healthy living. Do not be too hard on yourself or your family, keep it fun!
These small adjustments will make a big impact over time. As your children grow and develop their own hobbies and interests they will be appreciative that you taught them the value of a healthy, mindful lifestyle.