5 healthy tips for preventing childhood obesity

September 01, 2015

 

September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, and while the dangers of childhood obesity are well chronicled, many families need support to change their children?s habits with the ultimate goal of improving their health."

September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, and while the dangers of childhood obesity are well chronicled, many families need support to change their children’s habits with the ultimate goal of improving their health.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), childhood obesity has more than tripled in children and adolescents over the past 30 years. Today, obesity affects one in six children and one in three are overweight, creating greater risks for a number of health problems such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and some cancers.  Here in Chicago, 48.6 percent of all children are considered overweight or obese according to a City of Chicago study.

That’s why the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago wants families to understand the dangers of childhood obesity and ways to reverse its course through increased physical activity and improved eating habits. The following tips will not only help families live healthier together, but also help prevent childhood obesity:

  1. Eat Healthy: Make water the drink of choice (supplemented by age-appropriate portions of 100 percent fruit juices and low-fat milk) and make it easy for everyone to fill half their plates with fruits and vegetables by offering two or three colorful options. Feel free to mix and match fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables to provide variety. 
  2. Play Every Day/Go Outside: Kids should have at least an hour a day of unstructured play outside (weather permitting) and break a sweat at least three times a week with 20 minutes or more of vigorous physical activity.
  3. Get Together: Eat as a family as often as possible and involve the kids in meal preparation and clean up. In addition, adults should take a break from electronics and spend one-on-one time each day with their kids, enjoying one another’s company.
  4. Reduce Screen Time: Time spent in front of a television, computer, tablet, cell phone or video game should be limited to two hours per day.
  5. Sleep Well: Kids and adults need to keep a regular sleep schedule—10-12 hours per night for kids and seven to eight hours for adults.

For more information on how your family can live a healthy, active life, view our Health & Wellness programs page.