September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month and Cobb & Douglas Public Health wants to help families in the community live better and help prevent childhood obesity. By making a few changes to daily routines, residents can see big improvements on overall health and wellness.
According to Childhood Obesity Awareness Month (COAM), during the past four decades, obesity rates have soared among all age groups, increasing more than fourfold among children ages six to 11. More than 23 million children and teenagers (1 in 3) ages two to 19 are obese or overweight, a statistic that health and medical experts consider an epidemic.
The following tips will not only help families live healthier, but they may also help prevent childhood obesity:
Encourage healthy eating habits.
There’s no great secret to healthy eating. To help your children and family develop healthy eating habits:
- Provide plenty of vegetables, fruits and whole-grain products
- Include low-fat or non-fat milk or dairy products
- Choose lean meats, poultry, fish, lentils and beans for protein
- Serve reasonably sized portions
- Encourage your family to drink lots of water
- Limit sweetened beverages
- Limit consumption of sugar and saturated fat
Remember that small changes every day can lead to a recipe for success!
Look for ways to make favorite dishes healthier.
Regularly prepared recipes and favorite family meals can be made healthier and just as satisfying with a few changes such as:
- Replacing fruit juice with water
- Using whole-grains in place of white rice or potatoes
- Swapping starchy sides for additional vegetables
- Baking with natural sugar substitutes like applesauce or stevia
- Snacking on nuts, fruits, and veggies instead of chips, gummies, or cookies
- Controlling portion sizes and eating three moderately sized meals per day with two small snacks between
Help kids stay active.
Children and teens should participate in at least 60 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity most days of the week, preferably daily. Remember that children imitate adults. Start adding physical activity to your own daily routine and encourage your child to join you.
Some examples of moderate intensity physical activity include:
- Brisk walking
- Playing tag
- Jumping rope
- Playing team sports
- Riding a bike
Reduce sedentary time.
In addition to encouraging physical activity, help children avoid too much sedentary time. Although quiet time for reading and homework is fine, limit the time your children watch television, play video games or surf the web to no more than two hours per day. Instead of sitting, encourage your children to find fun activities to do with family members or on their own that simply involve more activity. Small choices can make a big impact, such as using the stairs instead of riding the elevator, or walking the dog around the neighborhood instead of letting it roam in the yard on its own.
For more information on National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, contact Cobb & Douglas Public Health’s Healthy Behaviors program at 770-432-7937 or visit: www.COAM-month.org.