For American families, dealing with childhood obesity has become more frequent in recent years. In the last forty years, this chronic disease has doubled amongst children and tripled for teenagers. Complications associated with childhood obesity include the development of type 2 diabetes and higher risks for heart disease, joint problems, and asthma. Obesity can also isolate children and cause them to be depressed.
Parents can focus on obesity prevention to avoid the difficulties of treating this condition later on. This is even more important for children as it is more likely that obesity could follow them into adulthood. Oftentimes, children can become obese due to their eating habits or lack of exercise. Sometimes a child’s genetics can also impact their weight.
So what can parents do to help prevent childhood obesity among their children? Keep reading to learn more!
Promote Healthy Eating Habits
One of the best things parents can do to help children avoid obesity is to provide healthy meals for them on a regular basis. Whenever possible, it can also make a big difference to teach children why certain foods are more nutritious than others. Incorporating lots of fruits and vegetables can make it easier to ensure meals are both providing essential nutrients and satiating children properly.
Parents can control portion sizes and slowly introduce healthy foods if their kids are not used to eating them. Over time, teach children how to read nutrition labels and make smart food decisions. Showing kids that healthy food can also be delicious is key to keeping them on the right track and preventing them from craving highly processed and non-nutritious food items.
Involve Kids in Cooking to Prevent Childhood Obesity
Getting children involved in healthy food preparation can be a great way to keep them engaged and interested in nutritious meals. Take them to the grocery store and let them help choose healthy ingredients. Allow kids to take part in the food preparation so they can feel satisfied when the meal is done cooking. Teaching them how to cook early will also make it more likely that they continue to prepare their own healthy meals when they become adults.
Get Active as a Family
Finding fun ways to exercise and stay active is a great idea when looking to prevent childhood obesity. The whole family can enjoy moving together and build positive memories in the process. Encourage kids to choose their own sport or activity in which to participate regularly. You can then enroll them in a local team or sports program with other children their age.
Be a Role Model
Children model what they see their parents doing in a variety of ways. This includes eating and exercise as well. By modeling healthy eating and exercise patterns, parents can make a positive impression on their children’s lives. Show them that eating fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and other healthy foods is something that you want to do. Teach them that caring for their bodies is important and essential to their well-being.
Set Great Sleep Schedules
Children need lots of quality sleep to grow properly. Maintaining a good sleep schedule can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity, and problems with attention and behavior. Lack of sleep can often lead to unwanted weight gain and changes in energy levels. Turn off any screens an hour before bedtime to reduce stimulants. Creating a routine that helps kid wind down and builds disciplined can also be very helpful.
As you can see, there are many great ways in which parents can help their children prevent childhood obesity. Help them develop healthy eating habits by teaching them about food and by getting them involved in the preparation of meals. Offer activities and sports to your children and build in time for them to exercise and move on a regular basis. Children model their parents so make sure you are practicing what you preach when it comes to healthy eating and exercise. Finally, ensure your little one is getting enough sleep to grow and prevent unwanted weight gain.