Working to Prevent Obesity in Today’s Children
How to get kids to eat healthy snacks and improve nutrition:
While it doesn’t take much to convince kids to hit the playground to get their daily dose of physical activity, navigating your way through nutritious food options can be easier said than done. Here are a few tips and tricks for adults to keep in mind.
Cut down on junk food, not eliminate it.
High-sugar and high-fat snacks are popular with young children, so it can be difficult to get rid of them entirely. However, reducing the amount of junk food kids can keep happy while making room for healthier options like fruit slices, yogurt, vegetable sticks, and nuts.
Set standard snack times.
Another great way to keep kids on a beneficial eating schedule is to set regular snacking times so kids aren’t always trying to snag a cookie or candy bar at odd times. By allowing children to have a small snack at the end of the school day or mid-morning, you will help satiate hunger pangs without spoiling their appetite for a nutritious snack, and can also keep children’s metabolisms strong and active – an important factor in the fight against obesity.
Get them to eat healthy foods
Kids can be picky about what they eat and when, so flexible healthy snacking options can help them eat well. For example, offering a delicious cup of yogurt with fruit will help them get the calcium and vitamins they need. Likewise, a fruit smoothie can be a nutritious alternative to chocolate milk or a can of soda. Disguising healthy foods as snacks is a fun and easy way to encourage kids to improve their diet.
Three tips to prevent obesity in children:
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), childhood obesity has more than tripled over the past three decades. In 1980, only 7 percent of children between the ages of 6 and 11 were classified as obese. By 2008, that percentage rose to nearly 20 percent. Among older children, ages 12 to 19, obesity increased from 5 percent to 18 percent over the same period. To clarify, there is a difference between being characterized as overweight and obese. The CDC defines obesity as being overweight for a specific size due to fat, muscle, bone, water, or a combination of these parts. Conversely, obesity exclusively refers to having too much body fat. Both conditions result from a caloric imbalance, where not enough calories are burned through physical activity to compensate for the calories expended.
So what can you do to prevent the spread of childhood obesity? Here are some tips to keep in mind when it comes to getting kids up and moving!
go out and play
First of all, it is important for children to burn off excess calories they eat during their daily meals and snacks. However, it can be alienating and discouraging to emphasize that a single obese child needs more physical activity. Therefore, it is best to encourage all children, whether in a church group, family, or classroom, to spend more time running around outside and participating in organized sports or simply playing in a playground.
Maintain your weight through healthy eating
While it’s important to reduce the intake of greasy fast food and greasy snacks from the diet of overweight children, the focus should be on good health, not weight loss, notes the New York City Department of Health. By maintaining current weight, children can achieve a healthy weight as they age. An encouraging diet of healthy fruits, vegetables, nuts, low-fat dairy, and whole grains can set kids on the right path.
Decrease in sedentary time
Time spent in sedentary activities, such as surfing the Internet, watching TV, playing video games, or just lounging around the house, should be kept to a minimum to encourage physical activity, the CDC notes. Ideally, children should be physically active for at least a half hour to an hour, four or five times a week, and setting limits on indoor fun will encourage children to play on playground equipment or start a game of wiffle ball outside.
Teach children nutrition tips and tricks for a healthy life:
It’s not just up to parents to monitor their children’s dietary habits — children also need to be included in the conversation. So, in addition to letting little ones spend a lot of time on playground equipment, here are some tips and tricks to teach kids how to improve their eating habits.
Learn the importance of hydration
It’s no big secret that drinking plenty of water is important for leading a healthy life, especially for children in their prime developmental stages. But it’s also important from a nutritional point of view to stay well hydrated. First of all, drinking water helps the body’s metabolism to function effectively, allowing children to burn calories from food throughout the day. A glass of water can also combat hunger pangs that can occur just before meals. Encourage children to drink several glasses of water each day to keep their digestion in check.
Getting snack time right
Many schools have set up a snack time for hungry children. While this might seem like a bad idea from a nutritional standpoint — especially when snacking consists of junk food and candy — it can actually be done in a way that will benefit children. First off, replacing cookies and potato chips with nutritious options like sliced fruit, yogurt, and nuts can help kids get the nutrients they need. In addition, a small snack between meals can boost children’s metabolism,
Get lots of rest
You may not think that sleep has anything to do with a healthy diet, but you are wrong. Getting a full eight hours of sleep every night is important for a strong digestive system. In addition, good rest reduces overall stress and anxiety levels, which can severely affect the body’s ability to burn calories and convert food into energy.
Thanks to Meagan Deacon