According to the CDC, nearly a fifth of American children ages 2-19 are obese.
Although we have seen a slight decline in obesity rates among pre-school aged children, overall we are not moving the needle. Unfortunately, children who grow up overweight or obese face a slew of health issues that we normally associate with over weight and obese adults such as high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure. These health conditions put children at risk for Cardiovascular Disease (CVD). As a matter of fact, the CDC says that 70% of obese children have at least one risk factor for CVD and 39% have two or more. Additionally, obese children may be bullied, suffer from depression, low self-esteem, and struggle academically which may affect the child emotionally well into adulthood.
How did we get here?
There are many factors that play a part in childhood obesity such as lack of safe parks, the food industry’s target marketing, and an increase in portion sizes that can be barriers to change. The problem is, if these, and a dozen more factors, are to blame for childhood obesity, why aren’t all children obese?
The fact is we can combat much of this in the home by doing a few simple things.
Be active together. Everyday, spend at least 30 minutes outside playing a sport, walking the dog, riding bikes, or some other activity.
Prepare healthful meals. This means that you have to spend time each week meal planning. Select what you are going to make each day of the week, create your shopping list, hit the grocery store, and do some meal prepping. This can be done as a family activity. As a matter of fact, children are more likely to eat what you have made if they were part of the preparation.
Set a good example. As the parent, it is critical for you to take care of yourself. Maybe you feel that this is taking time away from your family but what it is really doing is showing your children that taking care of yourself is a priority. By visibly taking care of yourself your children will learn to do the same, a critical skill for them as they grow up and become independent adults. The opposite is true as well. If you do not take care of yourself you are not role modeling healthy behaviors. Just the opposite. Surely not the message you want to send.
Just by making these things the ‘norm’ in your home you can help your children to grow up as healthy individuals and have a better chance at being a healthy weight their entire life. It’s never too late. “Be the change you wish to see”. -Ghandi
When most people think of exercise they think about going to the gym, lifting weights, taking a group fitness class, or going for a bike ride, etc.
What many people don’t realize is that different forms of exercise are recommended for youth. While adults can go for a long jog or go to the gym to do various exercises for an extended period of time, this form of physical activity is not engaging for most kids. Exercise tendencies for youth are short, intermittent bouts. If you go ask an 11-year-old to go run for 30 minutes, they will most likely not enjoy it and give up. One of the most important things you can instill in the youth is that exercise is fun and enjoyable - something that they want to be a part of. If, at an early age, they think that exercise is not enjoyable they may be less likely to continue this healthy habit into adulthood.
There are plenty of age-appropriate activities and games for parents, teachers, and fitness professionals to use for youth exercise. The following can help build bone and muscular strength, develop coordination, balance, and improve cardiovascular fitness in a fun and engaging way.
Home obstacle course
Crab walk or bear walk tag
Jump rope games
Sports like volley ball, tennis, basketball, kickball
Outdoor scavenger hunt
Get creative and help your children lead an active lifestyle!
LiveFit with Coach Shelby
Health Fitness Specialist
Make informed decisions about nutrition for your children.
Most people already know that children don’t need to consume as many calories as adults based on their smaller size…but by how much? The American Heart Association recommends that children between the ages of 2-3 only consume 1000 calories per day. Children between 4-8 years around 1300 calories, 9-13 roughly 1700 calories, and 14 + about the same as adults with 2000 calories per day. This means that all children 13 or younger should only be consuming 85% or less of what is recommended for adults. There are a number of ways you can manage your children’s caloric consumption:
Be cautious of portion sizes when serving meals at home
Limit meals eaten out because they tend to be larger portions
Only allow treats on occasion
Pack their school lunch
Never allow them to eat while watching TV or using electronic devices
Serve meals with a variety of healthy fruits and vegetables to help them stay full between meals
Caloric consumption can be adjusted by 0-200 calories if your children are moderately physically active and by 200-400 calories if they are very physically active. Physical activity should ALWAYS be encouraged!
3 Medium Ripe Bananas, sliced 1/4 C Creamy Peanut Butter 10oz Baking Dark Chocolate (chips or bark) Almond slices (optional)
Slice bananas into thin rounds.
Spread Peanut Butter on top of rounds.
Melt chocolate on the stove top in a double broiler.
Dip bananas in melted chocolate and arrange on baking sheet. Top with almond slices (optional).
Freeze at least 3 hours or until ready to serve. Store them in the freezer.
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