Preventing Childhood Obesity: Simple Healthy Lifestyle Tips

Childhood obesity has recently been on the rise in kids and teens. However, the good news is that this condition is usually preventable totally with some attention on diet and exercise. Being above the average weight based on age and height is termed ‘childhood obesity.’ This can lead to several physical and mental health problems. Overweight kids are at a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and asthma, among other concerns. 

These obese kids can more likely grow up to be obese adults, with the accompanying health issues. Given all this, many parents are concerned and wondering what steps they can take to prevent their children from becoming overweight.

How to manage calories?

Managing children and teens on gaining weight is all about maintaining a balanced lifestyle, similar to how it is for adults. In general, kids need to balance their intake with their calorie burn, including physical activity and physical growth. Selecting healthy foods and being active is essential not just for adults but for kids too.

Promoting Healthy Lifestyles

Parents play a significant role in maintaining the overall health of kids. Here are certain things that can help promote healthy lifestyles-

1. Always serve regular, healthy meals and snacks. Make this a priority to sit down and eat together as a family. 

2. Make food fun – Whenever possible, teach your child how to prepare simple healthy food at home. Let your child have as many as several healthy choices, and let them plan their dinner with your help. 

3. Keep healthy snacks like plenty of vegetables, fruits like apples, baby carrots, hummus, whole-grain foods, and dry fruits handy for quick and easy eating.

4. Skip fruit juices and other sugary drinks and give your kids more water to drink. Milk is a good choice with meals.

5. Limit outside food, restaurants, and other junk foods like chips, candy, cookies, and crackers.

6. Be a role model – Make an effort yourself to eat right so that your kids will notice and learn. Do not just tell your kids to have healthy snacks, have one yourself to stress that you are serious about being healthy. 

7. Choose to be active! Let your kids stay active and keep moving with fun sports games, dance parties, daily walks to the park, etc. A good idea would be to provide them with bikes, scooters, and balls for engaging them in outdoor activities. Also, plan active family activities.

8. Exercise and jog with your kids, swim in the pool, or do other physical activities. Your kids are more likely to adopt good habits if they see you doing them too.

9. Keep TV and screen time (including video games) to two hours or less every day.

10. As your child spends much of the day at school, it’s essential to provide a healthier environment at school. Everyone must plan and learn more about the Healthy Schools Programs from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.

Follow the 5-2-1-0 rule

Parents can follow this simple rule to try to get kids to eat right and exercise more.

  1. 5 – Eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day

  2. 2 – Spend less than about 2 hours a day in front of screens

  3. 1 – Spend at least 1 hour a day staying active outdoors 

  4. 0 – Limit sweetened drinks/foods (to none each day) and drink more water and low-fat milk

If your kids are on the heavier side, it is essential to be sensitive and concentrate on talking to your child about it. Emphasize healthy behaviors and give positive reinforcement for good choices rather than fat-shaming or disparaging your child. Also, never put your child on a diet without the guidance of your doctor.

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