The month of September is now recognized across the nation as Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. As we continue our efforts to combat the continuing crisis of childhood obesity in the United States, it is important to recognize that we have made some progress in recent years. However, there is still a long way to go.
Childhood obesity increases the risk of developing severe health problems later in life, including high blood pressure and chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.1 In order to work toward a healthier future for our nation’s young people, many government agencies have partnered together to bring awareness to the issue. They are working to provide solutions accessible to families regardless of ethnicity, socio-economic background, or ability.
Among these partnership initiatives is First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move and its collaborative effort with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition.2 These activities (among others) have come together to form Let’s Move! Active Schools, which aims to equip schools with the resources and tools they need to increase physical education and physical activity opportunities for students.
Parents can take action at home as well to help prevent obesity and support healthy growth in their children a number of different ways.
1. Serve fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables make great snacks and dishes for every meal. They are also higher in nutrients and lower in calories than other foods with added sugars and solid fats. For more information on how to integrate more fruits and vegetables into mealtime, as well as recommended amounts, visit ChooseMyPlate.gov.
2. Make sure kids are drinking enough water. Staying hydrated is an important part of healthy living and even helps maintain a healthy weight. For kids, who don’t always recognize the early stages of dehydration, drinking enough water is especially important.3 It is also a great alternative to sugar-sweetened juices and sodas.
3. Encourage kids to get the recommended amount of physical activity every day. Children should get about 60 minutes of physical activity every day. Even though this may sound like a lot, there are a lot of fun and easy ways to help your child stay active. Check out the CDC’s Making Physical Activity a Part of a Child’s Life for ideas.
4. Enforce bed times to make sure kids get enough sleep. When kids don’t get enough sleep, they are at risk of health and safety problems, are more likely to have difficulty in school, and of course, lack energy.4 Making sure your child gets enough sleep is important for achieving an active, healthy lifestyle and a balanced schedule that allows for daily physical activity.
National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse