Preventing childhood obesity

Tips on Preventing Childhood Obesity

We want the best for our children. We want them to be happy and healthy, but for many children in our community one aspect of health is an uphill battle if it is recognized at all – childhood obesity.

One in five children are overweight. Those delightfully chubby cheeks, legs, belly are all very well on a baby, but not healthy on older children. Being overweight as a child, or as an adult, has many associated health issues that we would not wish on those we hold so dear as our children. So what to do?

If your child is overweight, we have a program that they can be referred to- Fit Kids.

Fit Kids involves parents and their child in activities that help children become physically fit and healthy. Classes are held once a week for six weeks focusing on children and parents learning about nutrition, planning meals, stretching and having fun exercising. The goal is not to lose weight, but for these children to grow into their current weight while becoming more active and practicing good nutrition. Fit Kids also improve their social skills and establish their own exercise goals. Siblings are welcome. The size of the group and its age range varies, but classes are small with children ranging in age from 7 to 16. The class is held four times a year. You can find more information about the next session of Fit Kids by calling Pediatric Therapies at (520) 324-2075.

What can you do today to help your overweight child?

We asked Amanda Gavel RD for some tips on how you can help your children adopt healthy habits for life and prevent childhood obesity:

1.Adopt dietary and exercise changes as a family

Don’t single out your child with a different diet, or withhold healthy food, or point out your child’s weight status. As a family make lifestyle changes. Limit screen time and encourage outdoor play. Go for a walk after dinner as a family.

2.Be a role model in eating and exercise

Possibly the most powerful thing we can do for our children is act as positive role models and look after our own health. “Parents acting as role models for their children in regards to healthy eating habits and activity is very important for all children in general.”

3. Timing and balance of carbohydrate throughout the day

“It is important to eat regular balanced meals and snacks, aiming for a consistent carbohydrate intake at meals to help stabilize blood sugars throughout the day.” Amanda shares.

4.Limit simple sugars, refined grains, and saturated/trans fats

That’s right, candy should be a special treat, same with juice and soda. Substitute whole grain rice, breads and pastas for the refined white carbs, and remember fiber is important.

5. Focus on lean protein and dairy, fruits and vegetables and whole grains

“In regards to nutrition, recommendations are very similar to that for adults (and honestly for anyone for a healthier diet)—a general healthy diet of lean protein, lean dairy, fruits and vegetables, and whole grains.” Amanda suggests. The latest guidelines from ChooseMyPlate.gov provide a really straightforward visual guide to balancing your family meals, along with tips and recipes for balanced healthy meals.