As I read the premier issue of the new Childhood Obesity Journal, launched by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. publishers, the single, paragraph below spoke volumes.
“As childhood obesity rates rise in the US and globally, far too many experience this precious time of childhood in a compromised manner. Their cells are transforming more chemicals than their maturing biochemical pathways were meant to handle effectively. As a result, tissues and organs age prematurely and manifest symptoms heretofore associated with longer-lived metabolic systems. Their knees and ankle ligaments are distracted by constant efforts to accommodate burdens they were not designed to carry during these periods of rapid growth. Their fragile psyches are confused by conflicting mirror and media body images. Through it all, their innocence reaches out to adults for help.” Gail C. Christopher, DN Childhood Obesity, August 2010, Volume 6, Number 4
Childhood obesity rates are steadily increasing. Children are exposed to far too many processed foods, to the point they no longer enjoy the taste of whole, raw foods. Annual pediatric checkups are showing a significant, consistent rise in children with diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and joint or ligament strain. Internet, music videos, and reality TV are exposing them to unrealistic, “perfect” body images maintained by .05% or airbrushed and enhanced to “fit” in. Yes, this is a heavy topic for a Sunday morning post! What can YOU do?
- Be a good role model. Eat healthy foods with an emphasis on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy and lean sources of protein. Exercise 30-60 minutes daily, preferably with your children.
- Make sure you and your family start the day off with a balanced breakfast. Countless studies have identified that breakfast eaters are more apt to maintain a healthy weight. They eat more vitamins and minerals throughout the day, perform better at work and school and are less apt to get sick.
- Think your drink. Pack a water bottle, drinking water with and between meals. Soda pop, sports drinks (Gatorade, Powerade), Red Bull and alcohol contribute empty calories that add up quickly, but don’t fill you up! Don’t substitute water or low-fat dairy with excess juice. The American Academy of Pediatrics warns against juice abuse and recommends that all juice be 100% fruit juice.
- Children 1-6 years old: 4-6 ounces/day (1/2-3/4 cup)
- Children 7-18 years old: 8-12 ounces/day (1-1.5 cups)
- Pack a healthy lunch. A healthy lunch includes 3-4 food groups and a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. Take your children grocery shopping and have them help you pick out unprocessed, whole foods with their lunch box in mind.
- Eat dinner at home more often times than not. Restaurant eating raises calorie intake by at least 25%, even when you attempt to order healthier options.
- Grocery shop with good health in mind. Plan out your meals for the week. Make a list, and try to avoid prepackaged, canned and processed options. Try buying a pound of chicken breast, lean ground beef, fish (kids do well with tilapia), pork tenderloin, and a carton of eggs along with whole grain pasta, brown rice, legumes and fresh potatoes as your base. Build your cart with fruits, vegetables, cereal, peanut butter, nuts, deli meats and tuna.
- Subscribe to my favorite childhood nutrition bloggers and the Lets Move Campaign to stay motivated.
Do not put your children on a “diet” as this encourages food battles and eating disorders. Do encourage healthy eating and regular physical activity.
Children outgrow excess weight if they are nourished with the right ingredients!
Categories: Nutrition & Wellness