Friday, June 21, 2013

Childhood Obesity

Parents today want the same things for their kids that every other generation has wanted. We want our kids to be successful, happy and healthy. Sadly, that is not the case in many homes today. As children and families become more sedentary, parents have to work longer hours and screens like TV, computers, phones, etc. are constantly distracting kids and keeping them from being active. Their health is declining at an alarming rate. The American Heart Association recommends that children and adolescents participate in at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day.

Today, approximately one in three American kids or teens is considered overweight or obese. This rate is nearly triple the rate of childhood obesity in 1963. As parents get busier and kids become more sedentary, this epidemic continues to grow. Today’s children are being diagnosed with diseases that have historically been “adult problems”, such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes and elevated blood cholesterol levels. In addition to the physical issues, these children are also experiencing more psychological issues such as low self-esteem, negative body image, and depression.

What can you do to give your kids the best chance at a healthy life?
  • Start by restricting screen time. Restrict the time they can sit and use these devices. Encourage them to go outside and play. After a healthy dinner, take the entire family for a walk around the neighborhood. If you don’t want to walk, pull out the bikes.
  • After work, take the kids outside and set up an obstacle course in your backyard. Use a rope or a garden hose to outline the course. You can then race the kids, or you can perform the course as a relay team.
  • Play ball! You can pull out a basketball, baseball, soccer ball, football, softball, kickball or any other ball that you have in the house. Get outside and divide the neighborhood into teams. You can mix kids and adults on teams, or you can have a kids versus adults game. A little competition is a good way to get kids interested.
  • Plant a garden. Not only will you get fresh vegetables for the table, but also your kids will get exercise working in the garden. Research shows that kids are more likely to eat vegetables that they grow. Take the kids to the local garden shop and let them pick out a few plants that they want. You may also plant a theme garden. For example: a pizza garden and include plants like tomatoes, peppers, basil, onions, etc.
Get outside with your kids and show them the way to be healthy. Children will do what their parents do; just telling them to do something is not enough. You must be willing to play with them and interact. These are the days that your kids will remember. They will not remember sitting down to watch TV each night; they will remember the games you played outside or the hikes you took together. Take the time to teach your children about health and wellness. It will be a lesson that stays with them for a lifetime!

By: Angie @ Kids Matter

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