Working to Prevent Obesity in Today’s Children

How to get kids to eat healthy snack foods and improve diet:

While it doesn’t take much to convince kids to head outside to the playground to get their daily dose of physical activity, navigating nutritious food options can be easier said than done. Here are a few tips and tricks adults may want to consider.

Reduce junk food, don’t eliminate it.

Sugary and high-fat snacks tend to be popular among young children, so it may be tricky to get rid of them altogether. However, reducing the amount of junk food kids eat can keep them happy while freeing up space for healthier options like fruit slices, yogurt, vegetable sticks and nuts.

Set standard snacking times.

Another great way to keep kids on a beneficial diet plan is to set regular snack times so children aren’t always trying to sneak a cookie or candy bar at odd hours. By allowing children to have a brief snack at the end of the school day or mid-morning, you’ll help stave hunger pangs without ruining their appetite for a nutritious snack can also keep children’s metabolism strong and active – an important factor in combating obesity.

Trick them into eating healthy foods

Kids can be picky about what foods they want to eat and when, so having flexible options for healthy snacks can help trick them into eating well. For instance, offering a delicious cup of yogurt with fruit will help them get the calcium and vitamins they need. Similarly, a fruit smoothie can be nutritious alternative to chocolate milk or a can of soda. By disguising healthy foods as snacks, you can encourage children to improve their diet in a fun and easy way.

Three preventative tips for childhood obesity:

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), childhood obesity has more than tripled over the past three decades. In 1980, only 7 percent of children between ages 6 and 11 were classified as obese By 2008, that percentage jumped to nearly 20 percent. As for older children ages 12 through 19, obesity increased from 5 percent to 18 percent over the same time period. For clarity’s sake, there is a difference between being characterized as overweight and obese. The CDC defines being overweight as having excess weight for a particular height due to fat, muscle, bone, water or a combination of these parts. Conversely, obesity solely refers to having too much body fat. Both conditions come about as having caloric imbalance, with not enough calories being burned through physical activity to compensate for calories consumed.

So what can you do to help prevent the spread of childhood obesity? Here are some tips to keep in mind when it comes to getting children up and moving!

Get outside and play

First off, it’s important for children to burn off excess calories they consume during daily meals and snacking. However, emphasizing that a single obese child needs more physical activity can be alienating and discouraging, so it’s best to encourage all children – whether it be in a church group, family or classroom – to spend more time running around outside, participating in organized sports or simply playing on a playground.

Maintain weight through healthy eating

While it’s vital to reduce intake of greasy fast food and fatty snacks from obese children’s diets, the focus should be on good health and not losing weight, notes the New York Department of Health. Maintaining their current weight will allow children to grow into a healthy weight as they get older. Encouraging diets filled with healthy fruits, vegetables, nuts, low-fat dairy and whole grains can put children on the right path.

Cutting Sedentary time

Time spent doing sedentary activities such as surfing the internet, watching TV, playing video games or simply lounging inside should be kept to a minimum to encourage children to exercise, notes the CDC. Ideally, children should at least get a half hour to an hour of physical activity four or five times a week, and putting limits on indoor fun will encourage children to play on playground equipment or start up a game of wiffle ball outside.

Teaching children dietary tips and tricks for healthy living:

It’s not only up to parents to police their children’s dietary habits – kids also need to be involved with the conversation. So, in addition to letting little ones spend plenty of time on playground equipment, here are some tips and tricks to teach kids about improving their eating habits.

Learning the importance of hydration

It’s no big secret that drinking plenty of water is important for living a healthy life, especially with kids in a prime stage of development. But staying well-hydrated is also significant from a dietary standpoint. For starters, drinking water helps the body’s metabolism function effectively, so kids are able to burn off calories from food during the day. A glass of water can also fight off hunger pangs that might strike close to meal times. Encourage children to drink several glasses of water each day to keep their digestion in check.

Doing snack time right

Many schools have a snack time in place for hungry children. While this might seem like a bad idea from a nutritional standpoint – especially if snacks consist of junk food and sweets – it can actually be done in a way that benefits children. First of all, replacing cookies and potato chips with nutritious options like fruit slices, yogurt and nuts can help children get the nutrients they need. Additionally, eating a small snack in between meals can boost kids’ metabolisms,

Getting plenty of rest

You might not think that sleep has anything to do with a healthy diet, but you would be wrong. Getting a full eight hours of sleep every night is important for a strong digestive system. Beyond that, being well-rested reduces overall stress and anxiety levels, which can take a heavy toll on the body’s ability to burn calories and convert food into energy.