1 in 3 Children Are Now Considered Overweight
Unfortunately, we are now realizing that obesity is not only epidemic with adults but also with our children. Obese children are at a much higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease and are even showing early signs of high cholesterol and blood pressure. In teens, diabetes is an increasing risk with ever-increasing blood sugar levels. Long-term, these children are at higher risk for heart disease, strokes, and some cancers. They are also 70% more likely to be obese as adults. The good news…all of this is preventable. More focus is placed on this crisis of the waistline, every day. It’s so important that even First Lady, Michelle Obama is focused on the problem through the Let’s Move program, aimed at teaching families the benefits of exercise and nutrition.
How Did Childhood Obesity Become An Epidemic?
Take a look at the messages our children are being exposed to and it’s not hard to imagine why poor nutrition has become so prevalent. Physical education and recess have been scrapped—or significantly cut— from many schools. Playing outside has become a foreign concept for many kids, replaced with television, computers, cellphones, and other devices. (It’s estimated the average 8-16 yr old spends 7.5 hrs a day interacting with some form of technology.) Take a stroll down the cereal aisle or watch children’s programing and you’re sure to see product after product of sugary junk and fast food commercials. If all that isn’t bad enough, toss in some sugar rich sodas/juices and we are left with a recipe for disaster. Simply put, the odds are stacked against them.
Tips To Raising Healthy Children
Tackling this problem will not be an easy task. Parents, teachers, community leaders, and health care professionals all need to work together to approach this growing problem head on. But, what can you do? At UNI KEY we know how important your little ones are and we feel their nutrition deserves just as much attention as any adults. To help you get started we came up with 5 simple steps to get your kids on the right track.
1. Be a Role Model – Kids look to parents and other adults for guidance. If we are eating badly, what kind of message does that send our kids? Show your kids proper nutrition by eating healthy yourself. Children learn so much about the world simply by observing those around them.
2. Get Creative – Let’s face it, kids can be picky eaters. Any parent can tell you, trying new foods can be a chore. So, why not sneak the nutrition in if you can? If you have a picky eater, I recommend the book Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfield. This book is full of recipes that kids love but also sneaks in the nutrition they need. Think pureed cauliflower in mac and cheese or kale hidden in spaghetti and meatballs. (This works for picky adults too ::wink::wink::)
3. Plan Ahead – With our busy lives, a little planning goes a long way. In general, kids will tend to eat what is available to them. Go ahead and pack some healthy snacks like carrots or apples into baggies and keep them in the refrigerator. When the kiddos need a snack, you’re all set. They are also great to take with you on-the-go.
4. Talk to Your Kids – It is never too early to educate your children on proper nutrition. Try to avoid being negative about the foods they may prefer to eat. Instead, focus on the positive benefits proper nutrition provides. It’s also a good idea to offer positive reinforcement when they make healthy choices for themselves.
5. Don’t Forget Play Time – Being active is just as important as proper nutrition. Take your kids to the park, make up your own games, dance with them. Just keep them moving! It is ideal for children to have about 60 minutes of physical activity a day. (And trust me, keeping up with your kids can be a great workout for you as well.)
Do you have any tips and tricks that work with your kids? Post them in the comments section and keep this important conversation going!
. . . . . . . .