We Know The Problem…
By now most people are aware that childhood obesity is on the rise. Why wouldn’t it be? it’s totally understandable. We feed our children the same food we eat, don’t we? Of course we do. Who hasn’t popped a french fry into their toddler’s open mouth when they are begging for a taste, right? We’ve all done that. And that little dab of ketchup on the end of it- mmmm, so yummy! Then pinch off a little baby-sized piece of cheesy burger to follow that fry and down the hatch they go. Ohhh, yes…that is SO nummy, isn’t it? Good baby, to eat all your lunch! Mommy’s so proud of you! Here you go, here’s a little sip of Coke to wash it down! If you finish all your yummy lunch, Mommy will give you some of her apple turnover! After lunch it’s nap time.
I know you can appreciate the irony of a mother’s love for her child actually leading to major health problems for her little tater tot. The scenario above is not just one made up out of thin air. It is a scene I have witnessed in malls where I’ve shopped, in restaurants where I have dined, and in fast food establishments where (long ago) I once ate. (Before you judge me by where I eat, rest assured I no longer frequent those culinary places of ill repute!)
Is your child at risk for developing obesity and related health problems? How can you tell? Here is a handy growth chart so you can enter your little one’s stats and see how they measure up:
Created by Baby Calculators
Let’s Start At The Beginning…
Babies who are fed breast milk for up to a year will generally fall into the middle to low range on the growth charts. That’s not a bad thing. It’s what used to be normal back in the 50′s and 60′s before the fast food companies took over the McWorld and turned lunchtime into a french fried fantasyland capped with a Coke fountain. I’ve even seen people put Coke in an infant’s bottle and pop it into the baby’s mouth- no joke! I’ve seen it, and I’ll bet you’ve seen it too. What is cuter than a chubby baby? These days the problem that chubby babies are having is losing the baby fat as they grow. Too many of them are taking that baby fat with them into adulthood, where it becomes a problem.
So now that approximately one third of our nation’s children are overweight or obese, what can we do about it? Genetics does play a role in whether or not a child grows up overweight or obese, but parent-initiated feeding habits plays a major role as well. The fact is that many children spend too much time watching television or playing computer games rather than outside activities like sports, bicycling, baseball, basketball and the like. This lack of activity plays a major part in the obesity epidemic, along with diet. It is going to take a major effort from parents and caregivers to reverse this trend and ensure that the next generation is able to make the right health choices.
So what can you do to establish good health habits for your child? If your child is already overweight, what steps can you take to reverse that problem? Here are 10 simple changes you can incorporate into your family routine that will begin with you and end up having a major positive impact on your family.
#1- Limit TV and computer time. Your child’s day should include active hours as well as relaxation time. Children have alot of energy, which is as it should be. Channelling that energy into healthy activities is the key to their normal development.
#2- Join your child in an outside activity. Your child deserves your time and attention. Make memories by engaging the whole family in a healthy activity. On rainy days it could be an indoor game like Hide and Seek.
#3- Start them off young. The younger you start, the easier it is to get your child off the couch or computer. Establishing activities that create healthy, active bodies should begin when they are ages 3 to 5, not 15.
#4- Be consistent. Make a daily or weekly plan for your family to get moving. It doesn’t have to be the same thing every day, you could have different things planned for each day of the week. For example: Monday- gym. Tuesday- basketball in the driveway. Wednesday- a bike ride. Thursday- a walk on the Nature Trail. Friday- the skate park. Saturday- fishing at the local stock pond.
#5- Limit junk food. Make snack time healthy by only keeping healthy snacks available at home. Your child will eat what you make available, even if their first choice would have been something less desirable. So it’s really up to you.
#6- Make sure your child gets plenty of sleep. Too little sleep makes your child lethargic and less active, which can lead to weight gain. Establishing bedtime rules and enforcing them will make a positive difference, because not only does a well-rested child feel better, their overall behavior reflects the fact.
#7- Plan active family outings. Long hikes or camping trips are fun activities the whole family can enjoy and benefit from, and don’t forget to take the camera!
#8- Get a dog. Walking your pet and playing doggy games like fetch or frizbee catch is active fun.
#9- Always serve breakfast. Breakfast boosts your and your childs metabolism.
#10- Cut out sugary drinks. Sugar is a huge culprit for weight gain.
These are just a few ideas for getting your kids in the best shape of their lives, and pointing them in the right health direction for the rest of their lives. If you have health or weight issues of your own, you will benefit from these healthy lifestyle tips as well!