Prevent Childhood Obesity with Healthy Habits
Helping your child to maintain a healthy weight is vital to their overall growth and development.
If your child is overweight, the extra pounds can put them on the path to childhood obesity, a continuously growing epidemic in the United States that affects nearly one in five of school age children.
Childhood obesity can lead to serious health problems for your child in the future including diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, and even the development of depression and lower self-esteem. Factors that contribute to childhood obesity include genetics, metabolism, eating habits, physical activity, and even sleeping habits.
While it is difficult to change genetics or metabolism, adjustments in eating and lifestyle can definitely be made to prevent the development of childhood obesity and help your child get a strong start to a healthy future.
Incorporating the following healthier eating and lifestyle habits in your family routine can help your child get on the path to maintaining a healthy weight:
- Eating together as a family, and preparing meals together whenever possible.
- Adding more fruits and vegetables into family meals, and providing healthier snack options.
- Replacing soda with flavored sparkling water or swapping juice with fruit infused water.
- Limiting your child’s screen time to no more than hour per session.
- Making sure your child gets enough sleep, and avoiding screen time in the hours before bedtime for better quality of sleep.
- Finding fun family activities and hobbies, such as making regular trips to the park or starting a family art project.
- When watching television, limiting snacking when sitting in front of a screen to avoid overeating, and encouraging your child to get up and move during commercials.
Before making changes to your child’s diet, always consult with your child’s healthcare provider. “Children grow at different rates and have different nutritional needs,” says PIH Health Pediatrician, Kerry Sheu MD. ““It is important to find the right balance between the amount of food and beverages your child consumes with the amount of physical activity and nutrients their bodies need. Your healthcare provider can help to find that balance.”