It's no secret that the level of childhood obesity has dramatically risen in Australia. Unhealthy food choices, lack of physical activity, and overall family eating habits are contributing factors to this dramatic rise.
The sad truth is that weight gain and obesity in children are among the most important health risks to long and short-term health, and what's worse is that overweight children are highly likely to be overweight adults.
Like any good parent, children's health is always a priority, so here are a few tips for helping your child maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Making sure your child has an active lifestyle is incredibly important in managing their health. Image credit: Josephine Carino/sxc.hu
Eating healthy is a MUST So much of the food available today is full of sugar and preservatives, and processed so much that there's very little nutritional value.
As a result, children burn through processed sugars faster and are hungry quicker, only to refill their bodies with more high calorie, low nutritional value food.
Limit your spending on fast and processed foods. Sure, fast and pre-packaged food is quick and easy, but it's not suitable for everyday eating.
Instead of a trip to the ice cream shop, why not stay home and get the kids involved in making something healthier. Kids are far more likely to eat healthier food if they actually help prepare it, so why not try getting some ice, a few fresh (or even frozen) berries and a dollop of yogurt into a blender for a frozen treat that's much healthier. Or perhaps some homemade yoghurt.
Getting kids to participate in making healthier treats and snacks at home means they are more likely to eat them. Image credit: Doriana S/sxc.hu
Remember children do as you do. Be a good role model and eat healthy yourself. When trying to teach good eating habits, try to set a good example wherever possible. Choose nutritious snacks, eat at the table, and don't skip meals.
Make exercise a family activity Children are far more likely to lead an active lifestyle if the family does. Physical education class in school or school recess is not enough physical activity for children, particularly as only about 30 percent of a typical physical education class is actually dedicated to mobility and movement.
Children need a minimum of 60 minutes of very active exercise a day, and this is harder to accomplish when the computer games and internet are calling.
As they get older, it can be a real challenge for kids to get enough daily activity, particularly during the school week. Increasing demands of school, a feeling among some kids that they aren't good at sports, and busy working families can all contribute to this.
And even if kids have the time and the desire to be active, some parents may be completely comfortable letting their children freely roam around the neighborhood as kids once did not so long ago. So their opportunities might be limited.
As a solution, why not take time out to make sure you do things together as a family. Even simple things like walking the dog, going to the local pool, or to the park to fly a kite, are a great way to boost active minutes in your child's day, particularly on weekends. Making time for family activity will not only result in a healthier child but a happier and more stable one as well.
Get outside with your children more. Children learn by example. Image Credit: Ned Horton/sxc.hu
When kids are healthy and active, their bodies are far better for it. Stronger muscles and bones, decreased risk of juvenile diabetes, better sleep, and generally a better outlook on life.
Healthy, physically active kids also are more likely to be academically motivated, alert, and successful. And physical competence builds self-esteem at every age.