Trust me, I get it. For those of us who are prone to be overweight, it is really, really tough to slim down or stay trim in the first place. I guess that’s what upsets me so much when I see overweight children. I’m not talking about pudgy kids. Lots of kids are pudgy and they grow out of it. I’m talking about severely overweight, clearly obese children. It makes me sad, and honestly, it makes me very angry at their parents. It’s one thing to do whatever you want to your own body. It’s another to never give your child a chance at a healthy childhood.
And this is an unpopular statement right now as the “stop the fat shaming” and so forth gains movement. I’m not talking about being mean or making fun of people who are overweight. I am overweight.
This is different. Some people have genetic issues or disorders. We’re talking about obesity prevention in children because it can be prevented. Some children are just fed CRAP from the time they are little and get very little activity in their lives. It’s just not healthy!
As rates of pediatric obesity continue to rise in the United States, obesity in children is now recognized as a public health priority. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) wants to send the message that it is never too early in a child’s life to make changes for a healthy lifestyle. Even infants and toddlers benefit from a family who demonstrates healthy choices.
The AAP revealed their updated recommendations on obesity prevention in a report in the July 2015 publication of Pediatrics. The report contains information for both pediatricians and families about how to make healthy habits in the daily routine, to include moving more and eating a better diet, and emphasizes the need for parents and families to model healthy behaviors for their children. It also highlights the importance of including the family pediatrician in the obesity prevention process. The pediatrician can help the family by providing education and suggestions on activities and lifestyle changes and support.
Sandra Hassink, MD, FAAP, president of the AAP and co-author of the report, stressed the importance of tailoring healthy eating and physical activity to child’s developmental stage characteristics of the family. Families can make simple changes to eat healthier – such as buying fewer high-calorie, high sugar snacks and keeping healthy snacks, such as fruit and vegetables, available and easy for the children to access. Try to keep the higher calorie foods out of sight and really encourage children to get their 5-7 servings of fruit and vegetables each day.
Some of the tips the AAP provides for being more active include reducing screen time and removing media devices from the bedrooms. Adequate sleep is important for the child’s overall health and well-being, and media devices in the bedroom reduce their sleep. Find ways, such as family walks or trips to the park or team sports to get in 60 minutes of activity each day. Most importantly, the parents and family members need to be modeling these healthy behaviors in order for the children to follow suite.
I know it’s not easy. I struggle with my balance with food, activity, and so forth. But I do recognize that I am the parent, and if I want my children to eat healthy foods, live an active lifestyle, and make healthy choices, I have to set the example and teach them the way.
What are your favorite tips for staying active as a family?
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