Childhood obesity is growing at epidemic proportions, having more than tripled since 1980! The Mayo Clinic refers to childhood obesity as “a serious medical condition” and a precursor to what were once considered adult health problems.
Conditions including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes are some of the most prevalent weight induced physical health problems in obese children. However, the problems extend beyond the physical. The psychological impact of excessive weight gain in children can be a devastating downward spiral of low self-esteem and depression, potentially causing social isolation.
Yes, this may all sound a little daunting, but by taking action early in your child’s life, you can help them maintain a healthy weight during their youth and into adulthood. Here’s how:
- Promote healthy eating habits at home. Fill your home with plenty of nutritious, whole foods such as fruits and vegetables and whole grains. Have precut fruit and vegetables ready to eat at all times so that quick and easy snacks are readily available.
- Limit sugary beverages. One of the quickest ways to pack on the pounds is by accompanying meals and snacks with high calorie sodas and juices. These beverages are packed with calories and in most cases, have little to no nutritional value.
- Encourage your kids to drink lots of water. Substituting water for high calorie beverages not only reduces your child’s daily calorie intake, but it has other benefits as well. Drinking a glass of water before and during a meal can help to fill up a young tummy more quickly, therefore reducing the number of calories eaten.
- Control your child’s portions. When serving meals, don’t keep the excess food on the table. Simply fill your child’s plate with a reasonable portion and create the expectation that we only eat one serving. When eating snacks, don’t allow your child to access an entire bag of chips or cookies. Always exercise single serving portion control.
- Limit screen time. Set restrictions on the number of hours you allow your child to watch TV or play video games each day. Sitting idle not only inhibits calorie burning, but also encourages mindless eating.
- Encourage physical activity. Sign your child up for a sport or activity that involves getting up and moving their body. Make a regular ritual of active family time doing things like bike riding, taking walks or swimming.
- Set a positive example. Your children will be a lot more likely to develop healthy habits if they see you making healthy choices, so lead by example and both you and your children will benefit.
Establishing good habits early in your child’s life will not only give them a healthy start, but will also provide a lifetime of ingrained lifestyle choices. The small changes outlined above can make a big difference!
If you’re concerned about your child’s weight, Medifast Weight Control Centers has a customized adolescent weight loss program that can help. The specialized program takes into account the unique nutritional needs of a growing adolescent, so that your child can safely and effectively achieve and maintain their ideal weight.
Call today to schedule a complimentary consultation with our caring and knowledgeable professionals at our 4 weight loss locations in Arizona including Scottsdale, Glendale, Chandler and Gilbert!