Childhood Obesity Takes a Toll
Type 2 diabetes, long an "adult" disease, has been affecting more children in the last several years. This is due to an increase in overweight and obese children. Kids are becoming more sedentary and eating more junk food than ever before. With the advent of handheld electronic games, computers and ever more available television channels, kids have more reason to stay inside and sit for long periods of time.
Along with the risk of developing diabetes, being overweight also puts kids at risk for developing other "adult" conditions such as high blood pressure, and high cholesterol levels.
Here are some ways to help your child stay healthy:
Parents can help their kids stay a healthy weight by limiting video games and television time to an hour or two a day. Creating opportunities to have fun without electronic diversions can be a family undertaking. Dancing to music or working with art supplies are all ways to fire a child's imagination. Turning off the TV can help kids become more plugged in to the world around them. Let kids earn their TV time. For every minute they play outside, they can watch one minute of television. Thirty minutes of outdoor play will buy them a favorite half-hour television show later that day.
Give Them A Sporting Chance
Encouraging sports that the whole family can participate in can go a long way toward encouraging kids to be active. Some kids feel self-conscious when they are overweight and don't want to participate in team sports. They might feel that they won't be able to keep up, or that they'll let the team down. Sports that place emphasis on individual accomplishment such as martial arts or swimming might be good choices for building a child's confidence as he or she becomes more fit.
Chores Make The Grade
Household chores are another way to get kids to be active. Raking leaves, folding laundry, caring for pets, or helping with the dishes are just a few of the ways kids can assist around the house. Chores are great because kids feel like they're part of the family, they're becoming more responsible and it really does help busy parents accomplish more on a daily basis. Most importantly, it gets kids up and moving. It's a win-win situation.
Healthy Snacks Go The Distance
Offering nutritious snacks like fresh fruit, cut-up vegetables, or low-fat yogurt can help kids learn good eating habits. "Ants on a log" is a favorite healthy recipe that kids can help prepare. Take a cleaned stalk of celery. Fill with peanut butter or cream cheese. Decorate with raisins or sweetened dried cranberries. The celery is the log, the raisins are the ants. Making more meals at home, or packing healthful lunches or snacks for when you're on the go, will help cut the calories that fast food adds. A bag of apples may cost more than a bag of cookies, but the apple is full of vitamins, nutrients and fiber, which in the long run gives more "bang for the buck" by providing more of the things a growing child needs.
Making family health a priority will help kids learn to make the right choices now and later when they become adults. Parents hold the key to teaching their kids about living a healthy lifestyle. Doing it together makes everyone a part of it. And it's more fun when everybody is on the same track. Stemming the tide of "adult" diseases is just one of the many benefits of healthy living. Good health can last a lifetime.