We’ve all heard that childhood obesity is on the rise. The figures support the claim, with more than one in three children classified as overweight or obese. In the past forty years, obesity rates in the United States have soared among all age groups, with the highest percentage of growth among those ages 6 to 11. President Obama recently declared September as National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, in conjunction with his wife Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” initiative. From his proclamation, “Each year, nearly $150 billion are spent to treat obesity-related medical conditions. This is not the future to which we want to consign our children, and it is a burden our health care system cannot bear.”
So what can we, as parents, do to help our children?
Children need more than health threats to be active and eat right. Be a good example. Have a family game of soccer in the backyard. Go for a hike together. If there’s a TV show that you enjoy, devote the commercial breaks to push up, sit up or jumping jack challenges. Walk or bike to the grocery store for that one item you may need.
Make sure that each meal contains a fresh fruit and vegetable choice. Offer healthy choices between meals, like baby carrots and hummus or organic yogurt. Make smoothies together. Pack lunches together and talk about the foods you pack. Don’t just tell your children what they should do to stay healthy, teach them why each choice is a healthy one and how it will effect the rest of their lives.
Help your children see that exercise and eating right is enjoyable and fun!