Healthy eating and exercise should be an important part of your children’s everyday lifestyle. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of children and adolescents affected with obesity has tripled since the 1970s and it is now estimated that 1 in 5 school age children and young people between the ages of 6 to 19 are obese in the United States. These are shocking statistics!
Experts agree that obesity begins when there is excessive daily caloric intake in relation to daily caloric expenditure. Poor food choices are at the root of this excessive intake, as usually choices involve fast food rather than healthy food. For example, children love to eat pizza, but what type of pizza do they consume? Typically, it is the pizza with double or triple extra cheese. And, what about the types of drinks that are consumed with a meal? Again, these are typically carbonated sodas with considerable sugar and calories.
The key then is for a parent to introduce healthy food and drinks into their children’s diet. Have food and snacks available that are nutritious and low in processed sugar. Encourage them to drink more water as it is recommended that children drink 5 to 10 glasses of water a day, depending on their age. As options for fast food or food and drink high in sugar and calories are diminished, your children will slowly be weaned from them and toward more healthy eating habits. Please understand that this process will not be easy. Sugar is an addiction and your children will be craving it. However, offering them fruits with natural sugar as an alternative is very helpful.
In addition to changing what your children eat and drink, parents must encourage them to exercise. Experts lament over the fact that children have become very inactive, opting to sit and play video games or watch tv for hours rather than go outside and play. It is estimated that children now spend four hours a day watching tv.
Instead of telling your children to exercise more, try joining them and encouraging them to exercise. Take some time out of your day to exercise with them, if even for 15 minutes. Jog around the block, play a sport, or even join a dance class! The opportunities are endless and choosing an activity that your children will enjoy is the best way to ensure that they will keep up with it.
What our children eat every day fuels their bodies and ultimately their lives. Choose to provide good, nutritious food and drinks for them to help them build lifelong good habits.