Kids & calories: How young is too young to watch your weight?

Obesity continues to be one of the greatest epidemics to impact us in the 21st century. The simple fact is, if you’re overweight you are endangering your own life. What’s more, our own eating and exercising habits are affecting our children’s weight, with childhood obesity now becoming a major health problem. So, how young is too young for kids to watch their weight?

girl eating healthy sandwich

A healthy youth

The answer is, you’re never too young to be mindful of your health and wellbeing, because being an overweight child can have repercussions later in life.

To quote the U.S. Surgeon General David Satchen, “This is probably the most sedentary generation of people in the history of the world.” Unfortunately, our terrible eating and exercise habits have been passed on to our children.

Here’s the facts

  • According to a recent US study, 27 percent of children get their calories from junk food binges three times a day, with childhood obesity almost tripling since the 80s. This is on par with the growth of obesity amongst adults.
  • Overweight kids are 59 percent more likely to miss more than two weeks of school per year, and 32% more likely to repeat a grade than their slimmer counterparts.
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control in the U.S., the typical five-year-old consumes almost 600,000 calories each year, however, their annual movement is not meeting the demands of burning off this many calories.

It simply comes back to parenting. What are you doing to help your children eat right and get enough exercise? Your child learns his or her behaviour from you, so you must lead by example and gain control. Here’s a few easy tips:

Quick TipMotion Control

The Centers for Disease Control recommends that children need one hour of exercise a day. Children won’t respond if the exercise is a chore, so ensure that it’s a fun experience [it also helps if you enjoy it too!]. The more fun the activity, the better chance you have of involving your kids. Throw a ball, kick a footy or go for a bike ride. Whatever your choice, make sure they enjoy it. You might find that you lose a few kilos as an added bonus!

Portion control

Take control of the junk food in your child’s life. From chocolate bars to packets of chips and soft drinks, these are all too readily accessible and need to be considered a sometimes food [to quote the cute characters from Sesame Street] rather than an everyday food. Find alternative healthy snacks — there are plenty of tasty treats from the health food aisle that can supplement the junk. Alternatively, make your own treats so you know exactly what’s in it.

  • Lunch Box Control: This is the perfect way for you to control what foods your child eats during the day. Make sure you include healthy foods and limit your kids’ access to “tuckshop” treats.
  • TV and Game Control: According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, two-thirds of infants and toddlers watch a TV or computer screen an average of two hours a day, with kids aged under six watching up to two hours and teens spending up to six hours a day in front of TVs, computers and/or game consoles. Control the access!

More health and fitness

Sit down to dinner

A special segment on childhood obesity and how sitting down for a home-cooked meal can make kids healthier.

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