National Childhood Obesity Month
As naturally energetic as children are, it may be amazing that any American child is obese. Yet, nearly 1 in 5 American kids (17%) are obese. Obesity in children is a major issue because of the negative ways in which obesity can affect a child’s life. Being obese as a child establishes a high likelihood of being obese as an adult. An obese child is also at far greater risk of lifelong physical and mental health problems, diabetes and cancer are foremost among these risks. Direct health impacts aside, obese children are prime targets of bullying, in itself a risk to children’s mental health.
Experts such as the Center for Disease Control (CDC) highlight the importance of an energy balance in fighting childhood obesity. Sleep, exercise, and diet are equally important in composing this energy balance, which directly impact every child’s health. Children with unhealthy sleep habits develop fatigue, dread physical activity and tend to perform more poorly in school than their peers. In order to establish a healthy sleep cycle, parents need to enforce consistent times at which to go to sleep as well as wake up. Healthy sleep patterns will help your little munchkin to regain the energy that he or she needs to maintain the next aspect of energy balance: exercise!
Exercise is critical to establishing a healthy energy balance because exercise is the body’s way of burning energy gained through sleep and diet. Just as exercise is key for weight loss and prevention in adults, children fight and prevent obesity through exercise. Well-rested children will want to run around, play with their friends, and learn sports. Encourage active play by limiting screen time and signing them up for sports leagues like peewee soccer. If sports leagues are not an option, participate in family time outside by going for a walk or playing at a neighborhood playground. By establishing a good relationship with exercise at a young age, children are set up for a lifetime of good health in that exercise can be learned as a simple factor of daily life, not a chore. After exercise, food is the right call. Just make sure that you’re teaching your children the right way to play.
Children will adopt the eating habits presented by their parents, which is why healthy eating should be established throughout the household. Regular meal times (breakfast, lunch and dinner) should be established. However, active kids need food, which is why “snack” is in every child’s vocabulary. Make sure to present snacks as a band-aid, not replacement, for normal meals. Also, make sure to satisfy nutritional needs with every opportunity. For example, give your children carrots not potato chips when they’re hungry 2 hours before dinner. Many children want sugar and even these needs can be satisfied by a healthier alternative such as fruit, not candy. The CDC specifically highlights the value of replacing sugar-sweetened drinks with water as a way of maintaining a healthy diet for children. With school starting back up, take control of your child’s diet by sending them off with our 8 oz bottles of natural spring water–perfect for the lunch box!
With school starting back up, don’t let healthy eating stay with summer. Set up your child for lifelong success by following these tips and don’t forget to drink up!