Healthy Lifestyle: Eat Your Way to the Top

Why You Should be Concerned

Today 12.5 million children are overweight in the United States — more than 17 percent. Overweight children are at greater risk for many serious health problems. Poor diet and overeating can lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, bone and joint problems, breathing, and sleeping problems, heart disease, stroke and even depression.

What is Causing the Increase in Childhood Obesity

Three factors are causing an increase in obesity in children. They are:

  1. Increased portion sizes – Portion sizes began to increase in the 1980s. At that time, the average bagel had a 3-inch diameter and 140 calories. Today, bagels have a 6-inch diameter and 350 calories. Today, one bagel counts as 3 servings of grain on the food pyramid. That is half of your child’s grain servings for the day.
  2. Increased eating out or on the run – Restaurant meals, fast food and prepackaged foods have more calories and are less nutritional than most meals served at home.
  3. Decreased activity levels – Children are spending less time exercising, and more time in front of the TV, computer or video game screen.

Know Your Child

Your child’s pediatrician will chart your child’s growth at every annual physical. If you have concerns about your child’s weight, seek your pediatrician’s professional advice. Early intervention is always best.

What You Can Do

  • Use the Eat Your Way to the Top game to teach your child about healthy eating.
  • Reward successful daily use of the Eat Your Way to the Top game with fun outdoor activities.
  • Make adjustments to your grocery list to eliminate junk food.
  • Turn off the screens – TV, computer, video games.
  • Increase time spent on outside activities.
  • Limit sweets and soda.
  • Decrease portions or split meals when dining out.
  • Be a good role model.
  • If possible, include your child in your exercise routine.