For close to 40 years, childhood obesity has been on the rise. The number of children in the United States who suffer from childhood obesity has nearly tripled since the 1970's. Today, one in five school-aged children between the ages of 6 and 19 is obese. It’s the responsibility of a child's parents to take the necessary steps to keep their child from becoming obese.
Step #1: Change Your Meal Plan
It’s up to you to make sure that your children are eating healthy, low-fat, low-calorie meals. If the typical meals that you prepare for you children include fish sticks, hot dogs, and Spaghetti O's, you need to make a change.
You should start serving lean meats, poultry, and fish. Serving vegetables at meals is also very important. When it comes to snacks, you should switch out sugary treats such as cookies and candies with fruits and healthy treats.
Rather than giving your children sugar-sweetened beverages, start giving them more water. If they don't like plain water, flavored water is just as healthy. When you start changing what you are serving your children for their meals, it’s the first defense against obesity.
Step #2: Regulate Portions
While the meals and snacks that you serve your children are important, how much you feed them is also important. Many parents struggle when it comes to portion control. They don't want their children to feel hungry all the time but they also don't want to feed them too much.
Your children should not be eating until they are full, they should eat until they are no longer hungry. Portion control can be complicated, therefore, if you need some advice regarding how much food is enough and how much is too much, click here.
You can also seek the advice of the doctors at Orchard Hospital’s Medical Specialty Center - Your Everyday Heath Care Clinic.
Step #3: Put Down the Electronics
Children today are obsessed with their phones, their tablets, video games, and the computers. Unfortunately, all of these devices are often used while sitting down. Children today don't get outside to play the way that they did years ago.
It’s up to you as the parent to limit the amount of time that your children spends with their electronics. The best way to do this is to set up a schedule. Give your children a set time during the day when they can use their electronics. When their time is up, they get put away. Without their electronics, your children will have no choice but to get off the couch and get some exercise.
Step #4: Plan Physical Family Activities
It’s important for a family to spend time together. The more time they spend together, the closer they will be. When it comes to family time, you should choose physical activities. While family game night is a great way to spend time together, it’s better to get your kids moving.
Taking your children roller skating is a great way to have fun together and your children can burn calories in the process. Trampoline parks, children's arcades, going to the beach, and even walking around the zoo are also great activities to help your children get some exercise. Making fun, physical family activities a weekly thing in your home is a great way to keep your children active and to prevent obesity.
Step #5: Sign Them Up for Sports
If you get your children interested in sports at an early age, it can help them throughout their entire lives. The sport that you choose depends on what your children enjoy. Baseball, basketball, tennis, hockey, football, and even martial arts all have plenty of benefits. These activities will teach your children the importance of teamwork and also discipline.
Also, when your child is playing the game and going to practices, they are getting much-needed exercise. A new study team called SPORT (The Stanford Sports to Prevent Obesity Randomized Trial) designed a team sports program to study the effects of obese children participating in sports.
The test groups were made up of children from low-income families with a BMI above the 85th percentile. The children who participated in SPORT were separated into two groups. One group focused on just education and the second group focused on both education and soccer.
The children in the soccer group stated that they felt better about themselves, they stated that they were having fun, and they all had a significant drop in the BMI's. The children who focused on learning alone had a very slight drop in their BMI's and most still remained obese after the study had concluded. Getting children active in sports at an early age will help them throughout their entire lives.
Childhood obesity is on the rise and it has been for many years. The only way to change this is if parents start focusing more on what their children need and less on what they want.