Sponsored by the American College of Sports Medicine, National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month gives parents, communities and organizations a chance to get involved to help our children live a long, healthy life. Childhood obesity is a growing problem in the United States, with 1 out of every 3 children either overweight or obese. This puts the younger generation at increased risk for diseases that were once prevalent only in adults such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and joint problems. Extra weight puts great strain on the joints and can lead to knee injuries at a young age, and cause joint damage later in life.
Teaching children the benefits of maintaining a healthy weight, and how to accomplish that through nutrition and exercise is the best way to prevent childhood obesity.
Prevent Childhood Obesity by Getting Active
The good news is that childhood obesity can be prevented with healthy lifestyle habits. There are many things that you can do to encourage healthy weight in children, which will alleviate a host of health problems later in life. Getting active is a first step to losing weight. Begin with safe exercises such as walking more, playing basketball or going for a bike ride. As recommended by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Children and adolescents should have at least 60 minutes or more of physical activity each day. Exercises should be age appropriate to avoid injury and provide maximum benefit.
Children do not need the same muscle strengthening exercises as adolescents, as younger children will strengthen muscles by playing on a jungle gym or climbing trees. Adolescents may begin structured weight programs, as are typical in school programs for sports like football, basketball and volleyball. Whichever exercise you choose, it should be enjoyable and fun for kids to learn to stay active for life. Helping kids to enjoy physical activity is one of the greatest gifts we can give our children. Providing the framework for a lifetime of enjoyable activities will help kids to live a life free from serious and preventable diseases.
Types of Recommended Exercise
Exercise should be broken up into three categories; Aerobic, Muscle Strengthening and Bone Strengthening exercises. Aerobic activity should consume the majority of the recommended 60 minutes of activity, and can include brisk walking, or more intense exercises like running and swimming. Vigorous aerobic activity should be a part of your child’s exercise routine at least three times per week.
Muscle strengthening activities include exercises like push-ups or gymnastics, and should be incorporated into a physical fitness routine at least three times per week. Bone strengthening activities include jumping rope, and should also be included at least three times per week. Be sure to offer a variety of activities, limit screen time for children and adolescents, and offer a healthy meal to round out your plan against childhood obesity.
Offer Healthy Food Choices
Making some small changes in your diet can bring about great rewards to your health and longevity. Make half of your plate full of fruits and vegetables for every meal, the more colorful your plate the more likely you will receive recommended minerals, vitamins and fiber to keep your body healthy. Eat whole grains instead of refined grains by switching out white bread for whole wheat bread, and choose products with whole grain ingredients such as brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa and wild rice.
Make sure you have some foods with lean protein in your diet, such as meat, poultry, eggs, nuts and beans. Choose leaner cuts of beef when possible, such as 90% lean or higher. Switch out those sugary drinks for water, if you need some flavor add a slice of lime, lemon, watermelon or a splash of juice. Energy drinks and soda represent a major source of extra calories and sugar intake in the average American diet. The body needs water to replenish cells and to stay hydrated, although most Americans do not drink enough water daily.
By providing a well-balanced and nutritional diet we can do our part to ward off this epidemic in the United States, and help our children live a long and healthy life. Be sure to encourage safe, fun, age appropriate exercise to protect against muscle and joint strain, and introduce a variety of healthy foods to children at an early age.
Greater Waterbury Imaging Center cares about your health, as well as the health and well being of all children. Help the National movement to combat Childhood Obesity by encouraging healthy eating and physical activity to all children beginning at an early age. Contact us for all your medical imaging needs.