More than one-third of adult Americans are overweight. This likely doesn’t surprise you, as it’s a statistic that is shared frequently in public service announcements and federal-funded campaigns to promote physical activity. What may surprise you, however, is that the general health of our children is not far behind. According to the CDC, one in six children are obese and 55% of children don’t meet the minimum requirement for physical activity.
In fact, studies show that parents who do not set a good example for their children, or who are overweight themselves may contribute to childhood obesity. Often, these children learn their eating habits, follow suit in trends of physical activity, and may be pre-disposed to weight gain due to genetics. Being affected by obesity at a younger age places children at risk for low self-esteem, diabetes, heart disease, and osteoporosis.
The good news is that the health of our future generations is in our hands.
10 Tips for Setting a Good Example and Preventing Childhood Obesity
- Limit screen time. Children between the ages of 8 and 13 spend nearly six hours a day watching TV, playing video games or on the computer. Cut the screen time in favor for active play.
- Provide your children with a healthy diet. Avoid pre-prepared food, limit sugar, and pick nutritious and high-fiber foods.
- Respect your children’s appetite and avoid overeating. Don’t force your children to finish their plates or drinks. Similarly, lead by example by avoiding overeating when you are full or finishing your plate just to avoid putting away leftovers.
- Don’t treat food as a reward. Avoid rewarding the completion of meals with sweet desserts. Food is the fuel that keeps you going, not a reward for good behavior.
- Get involved at school! If you notice a lack of nutritious options at your child’s school, get in touch with the school’s administration or contact a NPO such as Active Schools.
- Make it a habit to participate in activities with your child. Studies show that when parents are more involved in their children’s weight loss and physical exercise, they enjoy the process more and have better results.
- Eat nutritious meals and engage in physical activity often. Our little ones watch our every move and listen to all that we say. You can’t always control the outside environment, but you can control the behaviors that your children see at home.
- Cut the negative talk. As you embark on your own fitness journey, celebrate your victories and look at yourself with confidence. Adopting a positive mental attitude will help your child enjoy living a healthy lifestyle rather than focusing on pounds and their reflection in the mirror.
- Bring your children along. Even if they aren’t at an age yet where they can get involved in all activities, bring them along to your competitions, games, workouts, and tournaments. Watching you make time for your physical health (and enjoying it) can be extremely beneficial and positive for children.
- Have fun with it! Talk with your children to figure out what types of activities they like to do. Adults and children alike are more likely to go off track if they don’t genuinely enjoy physical activity.
Interested in having your little ones join in on your training at Fit Crew? Coach Josh runs a Fit Crew Kids class on Wednesdays at 5 PM and on Saturdays at 9 AM. The first class is free, and we offer discounted kids class packs, perfect for families with multiple children!