Child Obesity

“He’s so chubby and cute.”
“What I feed my child at this age, doesn’t really matter.”
“Do as I say, not as I do.”

Child ObesityThese are some of the common themes I hear when working with obese parents with overweight kids.

According to the CDC, over the past 30 years the prevalence of obesity has more than doubled in the children population and quadrupled in the adolescent population. In 2012, more than one third of children and adolescents were obese or overweight. Where does the problem lie? It’s hard to blame a 6 year old child for their weight issues. It’s easy to put all the blame on the parents, but the issue is bigger than that.

At Healthy Steps, we work with families to help fight childhood obesity one child at a time. There are many common trends that we see when talking with children and their parents. The most prevalent is that busy lifestyles lead to increased occasions of eating out and consumption of convenience foods. Children sit in front of the TV and are constantly being shown commercials with fattening foods loaded with sugar. All these “kid-friendly” foods are processed, loaded with sugar and sodium and highly addicting. Let’s take a look at the typical child’s breakfast: sugary cereal with milk, or a poptart. There are over 11 grams of sugar in the typical child’s breakfast. The American Heart Association recommends children have 4 teaspoons of added sugar per day. Sugar has officially gone from a condiment to a staple in the typical American child’s meal. Another big contributing factor to the epidemic is the fact that many children live a sedentary lifestyle. Here are some tips you can do with your children to help fight weight issues.

5 Ways to Help Your Child Maintain a Healthy Weight
1. Closet Cleanout
It is very had to control your children’s food intake out of the house but you can control what food is in the house. It’s time to throw away all of the addicting sugary, processed foods. Take a look at the ingredients label: if you see sugar or fructose corn syrup in the top 3 or 4 names on the list, toss it.

2. Get Everyone on the Same Page
Everyone in the family should be eating the same thing. I have parents come to me wanting their child to lose weight but they don’t want to change their eating habits. It is very hard for overweight children to stick to a healthy diet when their siblings are eating the foods they shouldn’t have.

For our picky eaters: studies show that it takes 12-14 times of reintroducing foods to children before they actually accept them. Introduce ONE food at a time. I would recommend giving your child the “new” food first while they are hungry followed by the foods you know they like during the meal.

3. Family activities outside
Children spend more time on the computers, ipads, phones, or in front of the TV than anything else. It is important to get them outside and have everyone doing sometime active. Go for walks outside, to the park, the pool or to the beach. Activities outside together as a family are a great for family bonding. According to the CDC, the recommended amount of exercise for children is at least 60 minutes per day.

4. Have healthy snacks in the house
Convenience is key! Have precut fruits and veggies for your children to snack on during the day. If you have followed step #1, there shouldn’t be bad choices in the house for a child to gravitate towards.

5. Let your child be a part of the shopping, prepping and cooking process
Let your child pick out the fruits and veggies when going grocery shopping. Let them pick a new vegetable they would like to try or some healthy snacks. Studies show that if children are involved in the preparation and cooking of meals they are more likely to try and enjoy it.

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