Over the last 20 years, the amount of children who are obese in the U.S. has nearly doubled. Currently, one in six children and adolescents is considered obese. September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, created to improve the well-being of children and create healthy habits.
Kids who suffer from obesity are more likely to continue this lifestyle as adults, which can lead to physical and mental health problems, including diabetes and heart disease. But this can be stopped during childhood by teaching children lifelong healthy habits.
According to physicians, it can be difficult to determine if a child is overweight or obese due to growth spurts. It is rarely recommended for a child to go on a diet, unless otherwise noted by a doctor. However, parents and guardians shouldn’t wait to focus on healthy eating habits and regular physical activity.
Here are a few ways to encourage healthy growth in children to prevent obesity:
- Substitute snacks, like chips, with nutritious foods, particularly fruits and vegetables.
- Swap out soda and other sugary drinks for water.
- Encourage your child to help you make meals at home. This will teach them about portion sizes and ingredients. Plus it is fun for the family!
- Enroll your child in a fun sport they are interested in, like football, softball, or dance.
- Make sure your child gets enough sleep.
Childhood obesity can be prevented, and small changes like the suggestions above, can help. Each kid is different – so be sure to consult with your physician before taking any steps related to your child’s diet or exercise habits.