In 2015 more than one-third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These children are at a greater risk for health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, sleep apnea, high cholesterol and low self-esteem.
The good news is that it is treatable and preventable. As parents you have more control than you might think. What can parents do to help prevent this obesity epidemic?
Set a good example. If parents eat poorly, chances are their kids will too. Children model the behaviors of those around them so it’s important to evaluate your eating habits too.
Remove temptations. Pay attention to the types of food and snacks you have at home. Kids gain their tastes based on what is in the environment, so make sure to introduce and keep healthful foods at home.
Limit screen time. Children should get no more than 1-2 hours a day of screen time. Not only do electronics keeping children inactive, but TV advertisements can influence their food and drink choices.
Overfeeding: Children listen to their hunger cues well and much better than adults. Kids will naturally eat more when they go through growth spurts but don’t eat as much when they don’t go through growth spurts. Let your kids decide how much to eat. Your job is to offer them healthful choices.
Drink plenty of water. Avoid regular soft drinks, sport drinks, and flavored milk. Limit juice to 1 cup a day even if it is natural or 100 percent juice.
Help your kids to stay active. They need at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day. Activity helps children stay healthy and happy. Here are some ideas of activities for your kids: Throw a ball, ride a bike, dance, jump rope, hula-hoop and take advantage of nearby playgrounds.
Damayanti is a registered dietitian at Sutter Gould Medical Foundation in San Joaquin County.