What do your children do in their free time? Are they constantly on the move and involved in after-school activities or sports or are their eyes constantly glued to tablets, TV, or video games? Healthy lifestyles and habits are formed at a young age and the choices they make today can impact their health status as they age.

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, one in three children in the United States is overweight or obese. A child is defined as “affected by obesity” if their body mass index-for-age (or BMI-for-age) percentile is greater than 95 percent. A child is defined as “overweight” if their BMI-for-age percentile is greater than 85 percent and less than 95 percent. Childhood obesity puts kids at risk for health problems such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Conditions that were once seen only in adults.

Fortunately, obesity in childhood and adulthood is preventable! Healthy lifestyle habits, including healthy diet and physical activity, can lower the risk of obesity and related diseases. Use the start of a new school year to make some changes in your family’s life. Pack your child a healthy, balanced lunch to bring to school and encourage him or her to be active during recess or physical education classes. Work with your child’s physician if you have concerns over your child’s health status to develop a plan for healthy lifestyle modifications and goals.

Did You Know?

  • 1 in 3 American kids are overweight or obese.
  • Over the past 30 years childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents.
  • Obesity can lead to adverse health effects such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes.
  • Childhood obesity often leads to obesity in adulthood (CDC).
  • Not only does obesity contribute to poor physical health it also impacts emotional health.

Tips for Prevention

  1. Encourage healthy eating habits – provide vegetables, fruits, and whole-grain products and serve reasonably sized portions
  2. Make favorite dishes healthier – include more vegetables and cut down on added fats and sodium.
  3. Remove calorie-rich temptations – offer treats in moderation
  4. Help your kids understand the benefits of being physically active – benefits include strong bones, decreased blood pressure, reduced stress, and increased self-esteem
  5. Help kids stay active – children and teens should participate in at least 60 minutes of activity every day of the week
  6. Reduce sedentary time – limit screen time to no more than two hours per day

Sources: The American Heart Association, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Lets Move.gov, Obesity Action, USDA, LifeWork Strategies EAP, and Adventist HealthCare. The Health Tip of the Week is for educational purposes only. For medical advice, consult your physician. Feel free to copy and distribute this health resource.