Some time back I saw a preview for Our America with Lisa Ling. She was doing a piece on childhood obesity. The brief clip had a mother of a four-year-old wondering how he got to 100 pounds. It upset me so much. I was stricken with grief. I am sure that this mother did not set out to harm her son in any way. I am also equally sure that she really didn’t know how he got that large.
When looking at the CDC’s website (http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/childhood.html), I found some disturbing facts about the state of our children:
•Approximately 17% (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents aged 2—19 years are obese.
•Since 1980, obesity prevalence among children and adolescents has almost tripled.
•There are significant racial and ethnic disparities in obesity prevalence among U.S. children and adolescents. In 2007—2008, Hispanic boys, aged 2 to 19 years, were significantly more likely to be obese than non-Hispanic white boys, and non-Hispanic black girls were significantly more likely to be obese than non-Hispanic white girls.
•1 of 7 low-income, preschool-aged children is obese
Excuse me for a moment while I get on soap box. Exactly who is in charge in the house? Who is buying the food that these babies are putting in their mouths? Seriously, as adults we need to set the example. Now please understand that I am not saying this to be mean or hurtful. I have made my fair share of mistakes (and likely a many more than I care to recall). I am not saying you have to be perfect but we have to know as adults that what we do has a direct effect on our kids.
Want to see you kids healthier? Then you need to get healthier. Our kids look to us for guidance about what is right or wrong, interesting, cool and uncool, etc. Too often we think we can not influence our kids. But we can.
So here are some tips:
•Eat at home far more than you eat out or go through a drive thru. Sitting down at the table together over a meal does wonders. There are many studies out there that found that our kids are just better all around when we eat together as a family.
•Eating meals cooked at home allows you to control what is eaten. Use resources such MyPlate.gov to help you with what you should eat. They recommend that half of your plate should be fruits and veggies.
•Make it a tradition to try new foods together. Maybe come up with some way to turn it into a scientific experiment. Have fun and enjoy deciding if the food should be served again or not.
•Changing eating habits will not be easy. Your child (and maybe other adults) will likely fight back. Introduce healthier options slowly so they have time to get use to them. Then stick to your plan for a healthy meal. Don’t give into tantrums or demands for certain foods. No one ever died from trying something new or eating healthy.
•Make movement a part of the family week. What can you do as a family to have fun while moving? Go to the park, ride bikes, hike in the woods, etc. All free and allow for movement. The more creative you get the more likely the kids will want to do it again.