It’s no secret that many children in this country are overweight — have you noticed how many you see everyday? The problem with that is these children are putting their health at risk now and for the years to come. Plus, there are the self esteem issues that come into play for overweight kids. And we can’t assume the excess weight is “baby fat” and will disappear when they get older.
Pediatricians are seeing so many overweight children that the doctors are starting to see them as “normal weight” rather than being too heavy. Also they are starting to see children with type II diabetes and early signs of heart disease. Not a good picture.
So what can parents do to change this? Basically there are two issues here – how much and what your children are eating and how much exercise they are getting. Let’s take a look what is happening now and what can be done.
First, what is the ideal weight for you child/children? Talk to you doctor and find out. Ask for suggestions on what can be done to get the excess weight off and keep it off.
Now let’s address nutrition. What are you children eating – lots of fast food, junk food, packaged meals, soda, sugary cereals? Time for a change. I know we are all busy and lead hectic lives, but it’s time to really look at what you and your family are really eating.
Children learn a lot from their parents and what they eat and how much they eat is one of those things. So, maybe your family as a whole needs to rethink how you are eating. Junk food, fast food, boxed, prepackaged meals, processed foods, soda, fruit drinks, etc. are for the most part high in fats, salt, sugar, and preservatives. And, these are the foods that pack on the fat.
Also, did you ever read the labels on these foods? I didn’t recognize or couldn’t pronounce half the ingredients in most of them and it scared me to death. What is the is stuff anyhow and how could it be good for us?.
Start improving you family’s diet by using fresh vegetables, fruits and meats, cooking from scratch, finding healthy snacks,etc. Make it a family project. Talk about different ways to eat better. Brainstorm ideas, get the kids involved in meal preparation (they are more likely to eat what they cook). Watch portion sizes. Read labels on cans and boxes when shopping. Become aware of what you are eating. Make it a family project to strictly limit fast food and junk food.
And what about exercise? How much time do your children spend in front of the television, or computer or playing video games? A lot? How much are they munching on junk food while watching television? You may be surprised at how much it is.
If your family spend a lot of time in front of a screen, it’s time for a change. Increase the time you are up and moving, and as parents, we have to lead by example. So dust off the walking shoes and walk, get out a dance tape or cd and get everyone involved. Swim, ride bikes, jump rope, whatever. Think up fun things you can do together to get the exercise you need.
Are your kids involved in sports? This can be a good thing. But, how much exercise are they actually getting? Are they moving around quite a bit during practice and games, or they standing around waiting for things to happen most of the time? How often do they practice? What are they doing for exercise during the off season? Anything? Questions you need to think about.
So as you can see, the problem of overweight kids needs to be addressed. We want our children to live long, healthy, productive lives. Why not help them learn how important healthy eating and exercise is to their future as healthy adults?