Did you know that childhood obesity rates have skyrocketed over the past 40 years? In fact, from the late 1970’s through 2008, obesity rates doubled in preschoolers and more than tripled in 6-11 year olds and adolescents! Care to imagine what those numbers must look like in 2015? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that 17% of American children are currently seriously overweight! Ugh! Now, this is not surprising when you consider that studies have shown that vegetable consumption is less than 2% of children’s diets. It is also unfortunately true that kids get less exercise than in past generations, but did you know that diet is the biggest factor in childhood obesity?
This is incredibly sad, because when children carry excess weight, it threatens their future health. Right around 3,600 American children are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes every year! Yikes! And it gets worse because there is the danger of future complications from the disease. Studies have shown that 70% of obese children had at least one cardiovascular disease risk factor and that 39% had two or more! Shocked yet? This is kids we are talking about here! Oh, and childhood diets also have a strong influence on adult cancers because a child’s growing body is formed by the foods that they eat. Yup! As you can see, the formative years are crucial to future health!
What sets up this sad state of affairs is that kids become addicted to the junk food that is so widely available in our society at a young age, and, as a consequence, will repeatedly demand these foods. It is possible to derail these bad habits once they are established, but it takes much effort and patience. This is where all you fabulous parents out there come in! Since you have the greatest influence in your kids’ lives, you can instill healthy habits early on so that they grow up staying at a healthy weight, learn to have an appreciation for healthy food and exercise, and will hold to those habits as adults.
Here are nine easy tips for success:
- Make your house a “no junk” zone! Keep only healthy foods in the house so that everyone has the same food choices available.
- Involve your kids in your meal planning and discuss food choices and make collective dietary goals as a family.
- Have as many meals as you can together as a family.
- Get your kids involved in the kitchen! They are more likely to eat what they helped prepare.
- Have a weekly “family night” where you discuss a health topic and let the kids choose the topic.
- Reward good behavior with something healthy but never with junk food.
- Plan fun family activities involving exercise that the whole family can enjoy.
- Show your kids how to pack healthy lunches that include fresh and dried fruits, nuts, and raw vegetables
- Offer a diverse selection of natural foods so your child has freedom to choose what appeals to them most and sets the stage for them to try new healthy foods.
The best thing you can do as a parent is to live a healthful lifestyle because your kids will follow your example. Need help getting building your healthy lifestyle? If so, I can help you. CLICK HERE to learn about the 5 Keys Wellness Jumpstart Program. To your good health!