Childhood Obesity: A Declining, Yet Prevalent Epidemic
Last year, federal health authorities reported a drop in obesity among young children of 43% over the past decade. Evidence shows that obesity often takes hold of children when they’re young. According to the New York Times, children who are overweight or obese between the ages of three and five are five times more likely to be obese as an adult. That’s what makes this decline such a massive victory against a still very prevalent disease. The fight against obesity still continues into 2015 with long-term health effects looming over overweight children. Every day is a battle. Use our tips and insight to minimize childhood obesity at your not for profit organization.
How are physical activity and eating habits formed?
Parents play a big role in shaping children’s eating habits. When parents eat a variety of foods that are low in fat and sugar and high in fiber, children learn to like these foods as well. It may take ten or more tries before a child accepts a new food, so encourage parents to continue diversifying their children’s palettes.
Parents have an effect on children’s physical activity habits as well. Set examples for both parents and children by incorporating as much physical activity as you can at your organization. Playing ball or jumping rope with your children shows them that being active is fun.
What should children eat?
Just like adults, children need to eat a wide variety of foods for good health. The USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans encourages Americans over two years of age to eat a variety of nutrient-dense foods.
- Provide children with healthy snacks such as fruits, vegetables, air-popped popcorn or low-fat yogurt
- Keep introducing new foods, even if children are hesitant at first
- Limit the amount of added sugar in children’s diets
- Choose and prepare foods with less salt
- Involve children in meal preparation
- Ensure children are eating breakfast
How can children become more physically active?
Like adults, children should be physically active most, if not all, days of the week. Experts suggest at least 60 minutes of moderate physical activity daily for most children. Here are a few things you can do at your not for profit:
- Focus on fun – incorporate trips to the zoo or park
- Conduct activities that require physical labor like yard work or cleaning
- Limit children’s TV, computer or technology time
- Encourage families to continue activity with their children at home
Also encourage parents to talk with their health care providers if they’re concerned about their child’s eating habits or weight.
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