As parents, we want what is best for our children. We make sure they are bundled up in the winter and wear sunscreen in the summer. We insist they wear helmets when riding bikes and always make sure they buckle up in the car.
It is our primary job to influence our children and guide them down a healthy path in life. One of the best ways we can protect our children’s well-being is to teach them wholesome nutritional habits beginning at a young age.
While there is no single or simple solution, National Nutrition Month provides an additional opportunity for learning about ways to help prevent and address the serious health concern of childhood obesity.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers valuable tips for both parents and members of the community to help in the prevention of this growing health issue.
Tips for Parents to help support in the efforts for healthy growth in children:
- Parents can substitute higher nutrient, lower calorie foods such as fruits and vegetables in place of foods with higher-calorie ingredients, such as added sugars and solid fats.
- Parents can serve children fruit and vegetables at meals and as snacks.
- Parents can ensure access to water as a no-calorie alternative to sugar-sweetened beverages
- Parents can help children get the recommended amount of physical activity each day by encouraging them to participate in activities that are age-appropriate and enjoyable. There are a variety of age appropriate cardio, muscle and bone-strengthening activities that kids can do.
- To help ensure that children have a healthy weight, energy balance is important. To achieve this balance, parents can make sure children get adequate sleep, follow recommendations on daily screen time, take part in regular physical activity, and eat the right amount of calories.
Tips for the community to help support in the efforts for healthy growth in children:
- We can all take part in the effort to encourage more children to be physically active and eat a healthy diet.
- The federal government is currently helping low-income families get affordable, nutritious foods through programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and the Child and Adult Care Feeding Program (CACFP).
- State and local stakeholders including health departments, businesses, and community groups can help make it easier for families with children to find low-cost physical activity opportunities and buy healthy, affordable foods in their neighborhoods and community settings.
- Schools can help students' be healthy by putting into action policies and practices that support healthy eating, regular physical activity, and by providing opportunities for students to learn about and practice these behaviors.
- With more than 60% of US children younger than age 6 participating in some form of child care on a weekly basis, parents can engage with child care providers to support healthy habits at home and in child care settings.
Childhood Obesity is a complicated problem without a single cause. To help prevent this issue and create healthful eating habits, start simple by encouraging the whole family to get involved.