Parents are accustomed to their kids being home from school in the summer and at holidays. That familiar pattern has changed drastically in many parts of the country. In some areas, children have been home bound for several months, and there is little optimism about their return in the fall. This change has affected the whole family and caused many issues to arise. Preventing childhood obesity with kids out of school is but one of them.
We Know The Facts
Many say that childhood obesity is an epidemic in our country. Since 1980 rates of obesity have doubled for kids ages 2 – 5, quadrupled in ages 6 – 11, and tripled ages 12 – 19. One third of American kids eat fast food every day.
Side effects include:
- Children with obesity are more likely to experience chronic illnesses
- More likely to have physical and psychological problems
- Obesity results in a shorter life expectancy
- Obese children can turn into obese adults
The reasons for this are well documented including increased screen time, advertising, too many sugary drinks, decreased physical activity. We could go on, but you already know all this.
If this wasn’t difficult to manage before, it is harder now.
What Can Parents Do Now?
Kids are stuck at home with limited outside activity in some areas. This will change eventually, and all of these tips are useful anytime.
Don’t Give In
It’s easy to just give in and let your kids snack whenever they want. (which might be all day) since many are bored and frustrated. Guess what, you probably are too. If you are working from home, you need quiet time to be productive so you might be handing out those sugary snacks. Yes, it might keep them entertained in front of the TV for a while.
You know this is not how you conducted your household during “normal” times. Get back to structure and rules like no snacks in between meals, a healthy breakfast every day, bedtime set at a specific time, and more. Try to keep the routine as normal as possible.
As crazy as it may seem, children will appreciate this back to normal regimen.
Only Shop The Outside Aisles
When you do your grocery shopping, stay in the fresh part of the store. Don’t wander into the center where you might be tempted to pick up processed meats, unhealthy frozen meals and pizzas. Easy yes, but far from healthy. Your family will eat what you serve. Fresh fruits and veggies with lean meat and fish should be part of every day to prevent childhood obesity.
You can still give them a choice: do you want an apple or a banana?
Make Them Drink Water
Kids don’t know if they are dehydrated, and neither do many adults. Stock up on bottled water, or have it out of the tap if you choose. But please encourage them to drink water instead of a sugary soda.
Do Something Physical Every Day
Gather everyone together and go for a walk, play catch, or even put up a badminton net in the backyard if you have one. One simple, fun exercise for the family is to ride bikes together, even if it’s only around the block.
Be The Healthy Eating Model
Oh yeah, this is the tough one, especially right now. You may be weak and want to devour every cookie in the house, but remember the kids are watching. Yes, they are watching!
These tips can work right now, but will also become family habits when we finally are back to “normal.”
Contact your child’s pediatrician at High Lakes Health Care if you need help dealing with or preventing childhood obesity.