Food Choices: To Eat or Not To Eat
Why You Should Be Concerned
As a nation, we’ve been steadily increasing in weight in recent years. In the last decade alone, the number of obese adults in the U.S. increased dramatically. The CDC estimates that 65% of Americans are overweight and more than 61 million American adults are obese. The number of overweight children and teens has doubled since the 1970s.
This weight gain is severely damaging the health of our population. Just a few of the long-term consequences of obesity for both adults and children are increased risk of heart disease, type two diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, certain cancers, and many other
Identify Your Child’s Healthy Weight
Health experts have developed standards that define normal weight, overweight, and obesity. For children, a normal, healthy weight is determined by comparing the ratio of weight to height, or by comparing body mass index (BMI) against growth charts that take age and gender into account. You’ll be asked to provide your child’s birth date, height and weight. The BMI-for-age will be calculated for you and will inform you if your child’s weight is within a healthy or unhealthy range. If you’re concerned about the results, see your pediatrician for more information.
What You Can Do
As a mom, you make a big difference in what your children think and do. If you eat right and are physically active, you can encourage your child to maintain a healthy weight by following your example. Here are some things you can do to jump-start your family’s improved health:
- Turn off the electronics. Limit the time your child can use electronics that allow them to “veg out,” such as TV, video games, the computer, etc.
- Exercise as a family. It’s recommended that children get a total of 60 minutes of exercise daily. It’ll be more fun if the whole family is involved!
- Shop with a plan for healthy eating. Plan menus and make a grocery list for what you know you should eat. This will help prevent impulse purchases that may be unhealthy.
- Eat dinner together around the table, not in front of the TV.
- Educate your child on food. Take them to the store and show them how to read labels on the foods they would like to buy. Discuss the nutritional value of the food.
- Make small, easy changes over time. Living a healthy life is not going to happen overnight – it should be a slow but steady lifestyle change.
Teach Your Child with the GO, SLOW, WHOA Game
Use the U R What U Eat Chart to play the GO, SLOW, WHOA game every day. Make it a habit, and your child will learn the habit of making wise food choices. Play as a family and choose a goal for healthy eating. At the end of the week, have a family outing as a reward for a week of wise choices. Physically active outings such as bike rides to the park, bowling, skating or swimming are all great ways to have fun while staying healthy.
Seek Professional Advice
If you’re seriously concerned about your child’s weight and health, don’t wait to consult your pediatrician.