Childhood Obesity Awareness Month
September is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. This is a chance to promote a healthy weight among children and ensure that every child has an opportunity to achieve optimal health. Healthy bodies come in all shapes and sizes! Rather than focus on weight, keep your focus on health and what you can do to encourage and foster healthy behaviors. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) developed the 5-2-1-0 recommendations to provide simple guidelines to help children develop healthy habits.
5: Enjoy 5 or more vegetables and fruits each day. Vegetables and fruits are packed with nutrients that children need for healthy growth.
- Fresh, frozen, and canned all count! Just make sure that canned fruits are packed in their own juices (not heavy syrups) and rinse canned vegetables with water to reduce sodium.
- Including fruits and vegetables at each meal, in lunch boxes and serve them as snacks.
- Avoid using food as a reward and instead offer praise, hugs, or high-fives!
- Eat meals together as a family as often as possible.
2: Limit non-educational screen time to 2 hours or less per day. The AAP recommends that babies younger than 2 get no screen time at all, except when video chatting with family. In addition to increasing the risk for obesity, too much screen time in children can lead to headaches, sleep issues, tantrums, and can delay development of language and emotional skills.
- Don’t put a TV in your child’s room.
- Set screen-free hours and put devices away during those times.
- Replace screen time with something healthy, like physical activity, reading, or even needed sleep!
- Put devices away and turn the TV off for mealtimes.
- Be sure your child is getting adequate sleep. Most preteens need 10-12 hours of sleep per night and most teens need 8-10 hours of sleep each night.
1: One hour of physical activity each day. Physical activity is good for your child’s physical and mental health! Children and teens need 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day. Preschool aged children need to be physically active throughout the day with adults and caregivers encouraging active play.
- Help your child develop a love of physical activity. Encourage them to find and participate in activities that they enjoy.
- Be active as a family by hiking, walking, swimming, or bike riding together.
- Do 10 minutes of activity throughout the day until you get to 60 minutes.
- When appropriate, encourage your children to walk or bike to and from school – or better yet, walk or ride with them if you can!
O: Zero sugar sweetened beverages per day. Sugary drinks are the main source of added sugar in a child’s diet, and they provide little nutritional benefit. Sugary drinks like sodas, sweetened iced tea, fruit flavored drinks, sports drinks and sweetened drinks like coffee, hot chocolate or specialty drinks can increase a child’s risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cavities.
- Serve water or low-fat milk instead of sugary drinks.
- Be sure to pack a water bottle for your children.
- You can make water more exciting by adding slices of lemon, berries, cucumber, or watermelon!
- Choose whole fruit over fruit juice.
Raising healthy kids is a family affair, so get the whole family involved. The best thing you can do to help your child achieve the healthy body that is right for them is to create and practice healthy habits as a family! For more information visit the obesity webpage on the Get Healthy Clark county website.