Combat Obesity: 7 Ways To Keep Your Children Healthy in an Overweight World
Obesity (defined as having a body mass index greater than 30) is directly linked to negative health outcomes. Despite what many people believe, you don’t choose to be obese. It is a disease, and it is a worldwide problem. Combating it is increasingly difficult as more people are being diagnosed with the condition. Teaching your children healthy habits that can prevent or reverse it will help them live longer, healthier lives.
1. Reduce Calories
Your body burns food for energy which is measured in calories. In general, foods that are higher in calories provide more fuel. According to USDA guidelines, children under 18 need somewhere between 1,000 and 3,200 calories per day to maintain a healthy weight. The actual amount varies based on age, activity level and sex, but using 1,600 – 2,000 is a good place to start for most children. Considering that a single slice of pizza has nearly 300 calories without toppings, eating too much is easy and common.
2. Offer Healthy Options
One way to combat calorie overload is to offer healthy foods that offer high-quality nutritional profiles. Fruits and vegetables are prime examples. They tend to be lower in calories, loaded with vitamins and full of fiber that satisfy appetites and encourage overall health. The earlier you start encouraging healthy food choices, the easier it will be to maintain. Limit sweets and sugary drinks, but avoid making them taboo. Forbidding a certain food can make it really attractive to kids developing a sense of independence.
3. Plant a Garden
There are so many reasons to plant a kid-friendly garden. First, it encourages them to spend time outside It also adds a physical component to their time since, as you know, yard work is hard work. Perhaps the biggest advantage, however, is that kids who are actively involved in selecting and growing their own food are more likely to make healthy choices when eating. A child who would never eat their vegetable may surprise you by gobbling up their own homegrown harvest.
4. Make Exercise Fun
You know you should encourage kids to engage in physical activities. Keeping them fun can make it easier. Find something they enjoy and stick with it as long as it is fun. If your child likes to ride bikes, make regular rides a part of your family life. If they love to spend all summer in the pool, consider upgrading the yard with custom pools Austin.
Sports are another way to get kids moving. However, unless they express a desire to make it competitive, keep it as a recreational hobby. Intense training in some youth programs can actually discourage a natural love of sport and exercise, which is the opposite of what you want to do.
5. Get Involved
No matter how you get your moving, stay involved in a positive and encouraging way. Many habits children develop are the direct result of watching the adults around them. Set a good example by eating right, exercising and finding joy in physical activities. Play with them, ride bikes, and take a walk at the park. You are setting them up for a healthier, more fit lifestyle and creating memories you will cherish for decades.
6. Encourage Sleep
When you sleep, your body regulates hormones that control a host of metabolic functions. One of those is appetite. If kids aren’t getting enough sleep, they are more likely to feel hungry and snack throughout the day. Not only that, but they will feel more tired, which reduces the amount of physical activity they engage in. Combined, it is a recipe that is sure to lead to weight gain. Find out how much sleep your children should be getting based on their age and activity levels. If you are unsure, talk to your pediatrician for recommendations.
7. Limit Sedentary Activities
There is nothing inherently wrong with playing a video game or watching the television. Too much of anything, however, can cause harm. Limit activities that allow kids to just sit or sprawl around the house. Instead of stigmatizing it, offer plenty of active options for them to choose from instead.
Increasing rates of obesity make it more important than ever that you take action early to prevent your children from developing the condition. By helping your children develop positive habits, you are setting them up for a longer and healthier life.