• Take Charge of Childhood Obesity

    NBC’s The Biggest Loser has decided to include obese teenagers in their show this season. What does this mean for overweight youth? It can be difficult motivating kids and teens, many of whom are lacking in physical activity while also being bombarded with media’s display of skinny women and men. A study conducted by the Huffington Post found that while 58% of 2 to 5-year old children can play a computer game, only 43% can ride a bike. The study also examined the time each child spent using technology, discovering the average child spends about 70% of their time playing video games, using social media like Facebook or Twitter, or watching television.

    Childhood ObesityTechnology is rapidly becoming not just an extracurricular activity, but an inactive life style and a crutch to obesity. In 2008, more than 1/3 of children and adolescents were considered overweight or obese. 2/3 of Americans believe the government should have a role in the road to weight loss, whether it be strong or small. Another 1/3 don’t believe the government should be in any part of weight loss. Who do we blame – parents, the government, advertising, television, the Internet? With tons of misinformation in advertisements, it’s easy to be unaware of proper nutrition, but the change has to come from you.

    Displacing the blame is not going to solve the problem. Take responsibility for the overweight or obese child in your life and make the change that will lengthen their life and increase their happiness. Even small steps will help them build self-confidence, provide a support system and give them the tools they need so they want to lose weight. Try these tips and help your child live a longer, happier, healthier life.

    Eat at the table

    It’s easy to plop down in front of the TV with a heaping plate of hamburger helper and

    shovel food into your mouth. Instead, have a family dinner at the table, where everyone gets to talk and thus slows the eating process. Many statistics suggest the faster you eat the less full you feel, almost tricking your brain and stomach into eating more. Try making a non-competitive game about who can eat the slowest! Eating at the table will allow you to have great family time while encouraging healthy habits. When it is nice outside, enjoy a good long family walk after your dinner. It will help bring you together and encourage even more healthy habits.

    Eliminate sodas, fruit punches, or sports drinks

    Soda has zero nutritional value and eliminating it from your daily diet will help you shed pounds. Diet soda has been linked to weight gain, and now has been linked to depression. Continue to monitor the types of fruit juices your child drinks as many can be as bad or worse than sports drinks or sodas. There are tons of food myths – make sure you stay aware but also keep your wits about health news. Be cautious of flavored waters who boast more antioxidants, or juices that replace fruit servings. The actual serving sizes might surprise you. In moderation, soda and sport drinks are okay, but not as an everyday drink like milk and water.

    Cook more

    Cook With Your KidsCooking at home isn’t hard, expensive, or time consuming if you plan it! When you cook, you know what is in the food, as opposed to something like a frozen dinner or fast food.

    Keeping fruit around is a great way to encourage healthy eating, but getting your kids to eat it can be tricky. Some dietitians suggest hiding good foods into some of their favorite foods. An easy way to incorporate veggies is to bake it into your kid’s favorite mac and cheese. If you control the portion, and have an equal ratio of veggies and pasta, this is a simple way you can include some extra veggies. Include your kids in cooking – make some fun tasty snacks together that are both healthy and easy.

    Involve family and friends

    Exercise is fun when you involve everyone. Kids are bursting with energy, and they might run around all day and still refuse to go to bed. Overweight children might just need a little extra motivation. Try doing activities that are both fun and get them out of a stagnant routine. Winter provides a ton of great options, like sledding, snow ball fights, building snowmen, skiing or snowboarding. Get a group of family and friends together to provide a support system to encourage an active life.

    Kids know they’re overweight, but they might not know the health risks. Don’t want to scare them with facts, but try to let them know what is healthy and unhealthy by setting an example. Many people turn to food for comfort, but don’t make that the case for your child. Support their efforts through encouragement and games. Avoid terms like “diet” or “losing weight,” and instead focus on getting healthy. When their weight is a health concern, try to make sure they know it’s something they can change and control.

    Further reading and resources:

    Lets Move!

    CDC’s Nutrition and Strategies To Promote Healthy Eating

    Safe Weight Loss For Overweight Kids

     

    Sources:

    Teens tune out TV, log on instead

    Children’s Immersion in Technology is Shocking

     

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