Childhood Obesity Awareness Month: Steps to Take This September

September is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), one in five children has obesity in the United States, and 14.7 million children are affected. Just like in adults, children with obesity are more likely to have health conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, and breathing problems. Childhood obesity is a complex problem, but there are a few simple steps you can take to prevent and address it.

Move More

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend one hour or more of physical activity each day for children ages six years and older. This may seem like a lot, but little bits can add up quickly throughout the day. Sports practice, backyard play, and family walks can all add up to a great amount of activity.

Need ideas? Try a few of these:

  • Schedule a family walk
  • Try a new sport
  • Play a game of driveway basketball
  • Jump rope
  • Hopscotch
  • Have a dance party

Watch What You Drink

The American Heart Association recommends limiting sugar-sweetened drinks to eight ounces per week. Excess sugar and calories can lead to weight gain over time. Sugary coffees, sodas, and sports drinks can add hundreds of calories. Think twice before you choose your drink. Instead, try sugar-free flavored waters, unsweet tea, and sugar-free beverages. You can save hundreds of calories each day.

Eat Balanced Meals

Most kids like pizza, chicken nuggets, and French fries. All foods can fit in moderation, but it’s important to leave room for healthier options.

  • Moderation: Treats are a normal part of a child’s diet. Instead of eliminating them, add them in moderation. If donuts are on the menu for breakfast, watch your portions and make healthier choices throughout the day.
  • Balance: Balancing the foods you eat gives you a greater variety of nutritional benefits. If French fries are on the menu, balance it with a grilled piece of meat and a side salad. Choosing dessert? Make sure you have a protein and a vegetable at dinner.
  • Choose Lean: Lean proteins such as grilled chicken, baked fish, or broiled beef can pack a lot of protein without all the extra fat and calories. When choosing dairy, choose low-fat over full-fat options for more protein, calcium, and less fat. Most of the time, you can’t even tell the difference between using low-fat and full-fat foods.
  • Add Variety: A variety of fresh fruits and vegetables provides a wide array of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Fruits and veggies pack tons of nutrients without having a lot of calories.

Choose Sensible Snacks

Chips, cookies, candy, and late-night snacks are a staple in many kids’ diets. Giving kids balanced meals can reduce their hunger and cut back on the amounts of snacks they eat. Instead of high-calorie options, try these.

  • Cheese sticks
  • Fresh chopped fruit
  • Veggies and dip
  • Baked chips
  • Lunch meat roll-ups
  • Popcorn
  • Light yogurt

This September, let’s all work together to help our kids as we focus on preventing and navigating obesity. They are worth it!

Click here for additional resources on childhood obesity by the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC).

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