There is a serious epidemic attacking our families yet there is too little alarm being raised. Our kids are getting fat.
I don’t mean to be offensive and certainly not judgmental. Overweight is defined as excessive body weight for a particular height. Obese is excess body fat. And we have a full on epidemic of obesity taking place in our kids here in America.
With approximately one third of our kids and teens in America either overweight or obese, the American Heart Association reports that “childhood obesity is now the No. 1 health concern among parents in the United States, topping drug abuse and smoking.”
It hasn’t always been this way. Fifty years ago, I remember very few classmates who were even close to being overweight, much less obese. According to the Centers for Disease Control, “childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years.”
We get overweight and eventually obese when our caloric intake is consistently more than our caloric expenditure. Our kids are eating more of less quality food and moving less.
This is shortening the life expectancy of our kids. No one has more responsibility or potential for positive impact than us parents.
5 Ways To Curb Childhood Obesity
- Less screen time, more green time. Get your kids outside and play! Move! Tom Rath, author of the New York Times bestseller,Eat Move Sleep, says, “Inactivity is dangerous. In fact, some research shows inactivity now kills more people than smoking.” Make screen time a privilege to be earned after a certain amount of active playtime—preferably outside. Establish a screen time policy in your family. Take a family walk.
Stop the flow of liquid sugar. Cut out the soft drinks, energy drinks, fruit juices, and other sugar-infused beverages. An average 12-ounce soft drink has the equivalent of ten teaspoons or more of refined sugar. Over the long haul, that’s toxic by any definition. Fruit juices surprisingly create the same sugar spike when separated from the pulp and fiber of the whole fruit. If you want juice, juice your veggies. Eat your fruit.
Skip the fast food. It may taste good and it’s certainly convenient and inexpensive. But you and your family deserve better. I’m not trying to lay some guilt trip on you. I’m just saying if you want to take big steps toward improving your family’s nutrition, reel this in.
Prepare most meals at home from whole foods. Fast food isn’t just what you buy through the drive-up window. Most of what families prepare at home is processed, convenience foods. Michael Pollan says, “Eat anything you want, just cook it yourself.” Eating real food prepared at home will make a dramatic improvement in your kids’ health.
Grow your own food. Don’t shut me out yet—I know I may have just lost you but hang on. I’m not talking about growing ALL your food. Kids love to grow food-producing plants. Even a single pot with leaf lettuce, a sweet bell pepper plant, tomato plant, or carrots would be a great learning experience. When they grow it, they’ll be more interested in eating it.
Help your kids to learn to make better nutrition choices. Most importantly, set a good example.
Help your kids to learn to make better nutrition choices. Most importantly, set a good example. You cannot teach what you do not know. You cannot lead where you will not go. Make learning fun—like watching the movie, WALL-E, as a family, to start the discussion. Just start taking steps to curb this epidemic and instill healthier habits in your kids.
Question: How do you help your kids eat better and move more? Share your answer in the comments below.