Are you helping your child maintain a healthy weight?
We all want the best for our children. We want to give them whatever we can to enhance their lives
and help them have enjoyable childhoods. We do what we can to keep them in nice clothes and get them the latest toys and gadgets that their friends have. We encourage and help them with their education. We try to guide and direct them to make good decisions. However, sometimes we do not do all that we can or should do to ensure that they are developing healthy eating habits with regular exercise such that they can maintain a healthy weight.
Serious long-term impacts of childhood obesity
Recent studies show that although childhood obesity appears to have leveled off during the past couple years, there are still roughly one-third (1/3) of children between the ages of 6 and 18 who are obese based on their waist size.[ref]Waistlines of U.S. Kids Seem to Be Holding Steady, Study Finds[/ref] This is an alarming statistic and one with many long-term consequences:
- Recent studies show that even excess baby fat can be linked to health issues such as cardiovascular disease, respiratory ailments and diabetes in later life.[ref]Trimming the baby’s fat[/ref]
- In addition, obesity increases the risks for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stroke, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea and certain types of cancer.[ref]Obtrusive obesity explored[/ref]
- Children who are overweight are significantly more likely to be obese as adults.
- Children who suffer from obesity tend to be ostracized which can have significant and lasting impacts upon their self-esteem.
How you can help your children
Here are a few ways in which you can help your children get in shape and maintain a healthy weight:
Reduce the sugar and fat in their diets
* Fewer processed foods * Fewer deep-fried, fast foods * Cut out the soda pop and drink more water (this single change can have a significant impact) * More fresh fruit and vegetables (in place of high fat snacks like chips) * More whole-wheat and whole grain breads.
Build regular exercise into their schedules
* Find activities that your kids enjoy that will get them off of the couch * Biking, hiking, walking, soccer, volleyball, etc. are all great activities * Prevent your kids from spending extended periods of time in front of the tv/computer
Limit their time doing sedentary activities
* Set limits on the amount of time your kids spend on the computer, cell phone, video games or television. * Make exercise / activity a prerequisite to these sedentary activities. * If your child is into video games, consider getting some activity games like DDR, Kinect for Xbox or Wii games
Consider enrolling them in a “fitness” camp
* Bible camps and sports camps are generally great for encouraging fun summer activity * There are also specialized camps to help kids lose weight and learn about nutrition and healthy lifestyles[ref]Corder Pounder's Fit Camp helps kids shed pounds without stigma[/ref]
Promote good sleep habits
* Children need more sleep than adults (at least 8 hours per night) * Promoting early, regular bedtimes helps children feel more alert and active during the day * Activity during the day and early wake-up time is key to helping them get to sleep at night * Have your children avoid eating a lot in the evening before bed
Lead by example
* As with anything, we can more effectively teach what we, ourselves, put into practice. * Engage your kids in fun, active activities like family walks or bike rides, volleyball, tennis, beanbag toss, exercise videos, etc. * Practice healthy eating habits (you may want to read Eat Healthy this Summer)
A Worthy Endeavor
The fact that you are reading this article tells me that you care deeply about your children. You already do so much to provide for their safety and their needs. Helping them develop healthy eating habits and an active lifestyle may seem like an overwhelming challenge; however, it doesn’t have to be that difficult.
Even small changes, like drinking water with meals instead of high-fructose juices or sodas or setting aside 30 minutes a day for some form of exercise can make a huge difference. By being deliberate and intentional in your efforts to engage your children in these activities can bring you even closer together. The time that you invest now will pay dividends long into the future.
Don’t just take it from me, take it from First Lady Michelle Obama who stated in a recent interview pertaining to her campaign against childhood obesity, “nutrition and exercise impacts our children’s ability to focus and succeed both in school and in life.”[ref]Michelle Obama targets child obesity[/ref]
So, be encouraged and excited about engaging your children in developing healthier eating habits and more active lifestyles. It shouldn’t be a laborious task — it can be a fun challenge that you and your entire family embark upon together.
To your health and happiness!
-Patrick @ Family Staples