Childhood Obesity Awareness Blog Carnival
This article was written for inclusion in the blog carnival hosted by Littlestomaks to promote awareness of childhood obesity as part of the National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. Please read to the end of this article to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
You’ve heard it before — we have an obesity epidemic going on, and it’s not only affecting adults, it’s hitting children too. Currently over 23 million U.S. children and teens ages 2 to 19 are overweight or obese. If that statistic isn’t scary enough, read this: The prevalence of obesity among kids ages 6 to 11 has increased from 6.5% in 1980 to 19.6% in 2008, and among teens ages 12 to 19, the rates have increased from 5% to 18.1%.*
Instead of focusing on the possible causes of childhood obesity, I’d like to suggest ways to help prevent an increased prevalence and to help currently obese children. For younger children, most changes will occur with the help of parents, caregivers, teachers, and other adults in their lives. Here are some tips to help children:
- Be a good role model. Children pick up on everything around them, and if you aren’t eating healthy, balanced meals and participating in daily activities, how can you expect them to?! Lead the way to a healthy lifestyle.
- Get kids involved in the kitchen. No matter how young children are, there is a place for them in the kitchen. Whether they just hand you ingredients or help you stir them together, kids will learn that cooking is fun. If you order in or go out to dinner every night they’ll never learn the benefits of cooking at home.
- Encourage activity. Instead of playing video games, children should be out on a field or in the backyard playing active games. Sign your children up for sports teams or go for a bike ride with them a few times a week. Again, if you’re active, they’ll be more inclined to get up and go!
- Prepare balanced meals and snacks. Kids, just like adults, need a balanced plate of vegetables, lean protein, healthy carbs, and some healthy fat. Kid favorites like mac ‘n cheese can be made healthier by using whole wheat pasta, fresh cheese, and adding veggies and protein like broccoli and edamame.
- Keep in mind that healthy doesn’t mean bland. Treats don’t have to be off the table completely and nutritious food can definitely be delicious. Remember this at all times!
- Be supportive. Body image and weight issues start earlier than ever these days and kids need all the support they can get. Even if your child is overweight, it’s important to treat him or her the same as your other children and other kids. If you make changes to their diet, make changes to the diets of the rest of the household too. And if your child is being picked on because of his or her weight, don’t hesitate to go to the principal of the school to deal with the issue.
Childhood obesity is a complex issue and the above are only a handful of tips to help you and your family stay healthy. You can see some more tips in my childhood nutrition section. And find a registered dietitian in your area to help you and your family live a healthy, nutritious life.
*Ogden CL, Carroll MD, Curtin LR, Lamb MM, Flegal KM. Prevalence of high body mass index in US children and adolescents, 2007–2008. JAMA 2010;303(3):242–9.
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
7 Things Parents Say That Cause Eating and Weight Problems in Kids Michelle May, Physician and author of Eat What You Love Love What You Eat, highlights a few things parents say which can have unintended consequences (@EatWhatYouLove)
Childhood Obesity Kia Robertson of Today I Ate a Rainbow suggests that prevention of childhood obesity should start with education and educating parents about basics of healthy eating by breaking it into achievable parts (@eatingarainbow)
Healthy School Campaigns Works on Creating Healthy Food Environments A report on Chicago’s Healthy School Campaigns (HFC), a non profit dedicated to creating a healthy food environment in schools
Lessons I have Learned as a Mom Registered dietitian Alysa Bajenaru shares some of the lessons she has learned that have helped her develop a good understanding of what it takes to feed her kids (@InspiredRD)
Obesity and GERD: A Family Affair Jan Gambino, author of Reflux 101, writes about the link between overweight and GERD
Parents, Let’s Take a Positive Approach to Childhood Obesity Registered dietitian Ashley Rosales from the Dairy Council of California encourages parents to take a positive approach in helping their kids build healthy habits
Revolutionize the Way Your Kids Eat in Five Easy Steps Sociologist Dr Dina Rose suggests we shift our focus from nutrition to eating habits if we are serious about solving childhood obesity (@DrDrRose)
Surprising Easy Solution for Preventing Childhood Obesity Research shows benefits of extended breastfeeding in reducing risk of childhood obesity (@TwinToddlersDad)
The Problem Behind Childhood Obesity Ken Whitman, Publisher of Organic Connections, points out that our national priorities concerning childhood obesity are misplaced and calls for a renewed focus on the health of our nations kids.