Parents Can Solve Childhood Obesity
The childhood obesity problem in this country is a disgrace. Nearly 1 in 5 of our children ages 6 to 19 is obese. That's up from approximately 1 in 20 in 1980.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says "the causes of childhood obesity are multi-factorial." No, they're not.
The reason so many of our children are obese is because they consume too much bad stuff and move too little. Their diets are high in bad carbohydrates (i.e., junk food) like french fries, sodas and sweets, and low in fresh vegetables, fruits and healthy sources of protein. They spend entirely too much time in front of televisions, video games, and computers and not enough time in physical activity.
And make no mistake, the best physical activity for a child is free play. A child enrolled in an adult-micromanaged sport is not getting half the exercise kids got playing sandlot games in the 1950s and '60s, when childhood obesity was very rare.
In rare instances, a medical issue may precede childhood obesity, but the typical overweight kid has a lifestyle problem. The solution is for parents to begin making their children's weight a high priority. Yes, schools need to eliminate carb-loaded lunches along with soda and snack machines, but in the final analysis, childhood obesity is going to be prevented and solved at home.
This is not rocket science. Eat at least 90 percent of your meals at home, around the table instead of in front of a television set. If that means taking your kids out of most after-school activities, do it! Most involve minimal activity anyway.
Prepare meals that are heart-healthy. When your children are hungry between meals, give them apples, cheese and raw vegetables. When they're thirsty, direct them to the faucet.
Garden with your kids. Studies have shown that children who garden with their parents eat what they grow and have healthier diets. They actually like vegetables! Gardening is also great exercise.
Exercise with your children. Take daily walks and bicycle rides with your kids. Play catch. Throw Frisbees. Get a backyard trampoline. When they say they're bored, point to the back door.
Don't allow televisions, video game consoles or computers in your children's rooms, and restrict screen time to no more than one hour per day.
Perhaps most important, find out what you should weigh, get there and stay there.
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