1 in every 5 children and adolescents are obese, that’s about 13.7 million children and adolescents that are affected by obesity. This number is much too high. Why is this? A decade ago, more kids were outside running around playing, getting dirty, and using their imagination. Today, kids are often glued to tablets, TV’s and other electronics instead of being active. September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness month, let’s spread awareness and find ways everyone can contribute to lowering obesity.
Childhood overweight and obesity is determined by the child’s BMI. BMI’s at and above the 85th percentile and below the 95th percentile is classified as overweight. BMI’s at or above the 95th percentile is obese. The obesity rate has significantly increased since 2000.
Factors contributing to childhood obesity include eating high calorie foods, sugar filled beverages with no nutritional value, and lack of physical activity. It’s important for parents and caregivers to establish a healthy environment and routine to positively impact the children and help them to grasp healthy behaviors while they’re young so they can grow up to be a healthy adult. Children who suffer obesity are more likely to suffer from it as an adult as well. Obesity also puts children at a risk for developing other conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol, breathing problems (asthma/ sleep apnea), and heart disease just to name a few. Also related to obesity are psychological problems (anxiety/ depression), low self- esteem, and social problems.
What can we do?
With the new school year just getting into fully swing, why not work on adopting a healthy schedule for not only kids but the whole family? It’s so important for parents and caregivers to be good examples and guide kids in a healthy direction!
When kids come home from school, the first thing they ask for is a snack, next it’s onto grab the tablet and sit until dinner is ready, and after jump back on the tablet if they’re allowed! Kids love their electronics, and while it is okay to have some downtime after their busy school day, it’s important to make sure they get some physical activity in there as well! Outdoor play, scootering, biking, basketball with neighbors, going to the park, or sign them up for a sport they may be interested in.
Put a limit on screen time!
Screen time should be limited to 1-2 hours a day for kids over 2 years of age. Set a timer while they watch TV, play video games, or play on their tablet. When the time’s up, time to find something else to do!
· No TV during meal time or homework
· Don’t leave the TV on for background noise, try turning on some music instead!
· Play board games or do a puzzle
· Go for a walk
· Go to the park
· Scooter, bike, rollerblade
· Play basketball/ volleyball/ baseball/ soccer in the backyard
Prep some snacks for the week, make a rule that they have to take 2-3 small healthy snacks and a glass of water before they can have the “treat snack” they are so begging for. This will help fill them up with nutritious foods!
HEALTHY SNACK IDEAS
Baggies/ small containers:
o Fresh fruit
o Dried fruit
o Fresh veggies and dip
o Mixed nuts
o Carrots with ranch
o Apples and peanut butter
o Crackers, deli meat, cheese
o Hummus and pretzels or crackers
o Hard-boiled eggs
o Ham and cheese sandwich (whole wheat/ whole grain bread)
o Peanut butter and jelly sandwich (whole wheat/ whole grain bread)
o Chicken or egg salad with pita chips
o Yogurt and granola