Fight Childhood Obesity
From 1980 to 2010, childhood obesity more than tripled. Today, nearly half of all children are overweight or obese. As alarming as that statistic is, what's even more disturbing is that most people don't even recognize there's an issue.
If you're a parent, it's time to take a good look at your kids. In a recent study, an astonishing 51% of parents with an overweight child failed to recognize that their child had a weight problem. If you don't see the problem, you won't take action to fix it.
Teens that are overweight or obese are three to four times more likely to die from heart disease. The risk of death from colon cancer or respiratory diseases is two to three times greater for an overweight child.
To see if your child needs help, start by checking their Body Mass Index or BMI. It's a formula that calculates the weight-to-height ratio and is a measure of general fitness and health. The goal is to have the ratio, or Body Mass Index equal to about 22.
If your child is overweight or has a high BMI, it's time to take control.
Young children can't go grocery shopping for themselves. It's up to you to provide healthier options at home and set a good example. The foods children are raised with are the ones they tend to feel most comfortable eating. If you give you children a steady stream of burgers, fries, soda and treats, that's what they'll keep eating as they get older. Stock your kitchen with healthier choices and get more involved in meal planning.
Eat a healthy breakfast to kick the day off right. Lower sugar cereals with 1% or fat free milk, whole-wheat pancakes, French toast or waffles and sugar free syrup. Other good choices include lower sugar or sugar free "Weight Control" oatmeal or scrambled egg whites and vegetables.
Ditch the pop-tarts, muffins, cereal bars and pastries. The excess sugar will cause insulin spikes and leave children more hungry and tired 1-2 hours later.
Pack a lunch for yourself and your kids, with their help. You'll give them healthier choices than many school cafeterias offer and give yourself a chance to eat healthier as well. Try packing sandwiches, homemade soups in a thermos, whole fruit, vegetables with a low-fat dipping sauce and nuts for dessert.
If your kids help you prepare the food, they'll be much more willing to try it. When they refuse to sample something, realize that it may not be a permanent rejection. Try re-introducing healthy food that was initially rejected a couple weeks later. It may take two or three tries before they give it a fair try. For hundreds of healthy recipes, visit the recipes section of our website HERE.
Don't use food as a reward. Many parents bribe their children with sugar and fat filled treats. That gives the impression that unhealthy food is GOOD while healthy food is BAD. Instead of food, reward your child with a trip someplace special like a park, pool or museum. Play their favorite game or allow them to spend more time with friends. If you're intent on giving them something, put together a surprise or treasure box that holds small toys, activity kits, stickers or jewelry that your child can choose from.
Make dinner a family event and get everyone involved. Teaching children how to cook gives you time to spend together as a family, teaches them how to be more self-reliant and boosts their confidence as they master new skills. It also helps everyone more fully appreciate what goes into preparing a healthy meal.
Finally, encourage everyone to eat a little slower. Eating isn't a race! Let the food have time to digest and give your body a chance to recognize it's full.
What you eat is critical, but it's only half the solution. The other half is getting enough appropriate exercise. Next week I'll share some guidelines on setting up a proper exercise program for children and teenagers.
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CAUTION: Check with your doctor before
beginning any diet or exercise program.