Childhood obesity continues to make headlines as statistics worldwide show kids are gaining weight and becoming more sedentary. Some studies are even claim that the amount of time a kid spends watch TV can predict how large their waist will be or how diminished their physical fitness will be.
Michelle Obama is using her status as First lady to draw attention to childhood obesity and institute changes in how America’s kids (and families) eat. Already over 3700 schools have made changes in food service programs recommended by the USDA, surpassing the first year’s goal of meeting new guidelines. More fruits and vegetables are appearing in school breakfast and lunch lines. Public awareness and dietary changes are beginning to make a difference in the lives of many children.
Eating habits are only one part of fighting childhood obesity. Increased physical activity builds muscles, burns calories, and provides kids opportunities for socialization, team building skills, and fun. Studies have shown that eliminating 64 calories a day through dietary changes and increased exercise can reduce a child’s weight by up to a pound a week.
Mrs. Obama’s “Let’s Move” Program is getting pop stars, large corporations, healthcare providers, and most importantly, schools all supporting the cause. Let’s Move encourages a healthier diet in and out of school, better food labeling, and increased daily physical activity for children.
Let’s Move strives to get entire communities involved to promote a healthy lifestyle and fun physical activities including being active in the community, in school, and with family. The combination of healthy food choices and physical activity is what the Task Force on Childhood Obesity has stated as the best strategy for tackling the epidemic.
Let’s Move is five steps toward better health. They are:
Step 1: Move Everyday: A minimum of 60 total minutes of physical activity per day for every single kid will get them moving in the right direction. They will feel better, be less stressed, more attentive in school, and get a better night sleep, all because of one hour of physical activity.
Step 2: Try a New Fruit or Veggie: There are thousands of fruits and vegetables available that most kids have never tried. Fruits and veggies are vital for a healthy diet and kids can have more fun eating them by trying new things. Children grocery shopping with adults can pick out their own fruits and veggies to try, turning a healthy lifestyle into something fun for them. Challenging the kids to make the most colorful salad possible will increase the amount of nutrients they will get from it.
Step 3: Drink Lots of Water: Stop stocking the house with soda and increase the consumption of water. Only purchase 100% real fruit juice. If the kids want something similar to a soda then add a splash of juice into some sparkling water. Pediatricians recommend only 4-6 ounces of juice a day for kids. Water consumed throughout the day is necessary for optimum brain and body functioning.
Step 4: Do Jumping Jacks to Break up TV Time: The statistics for how much television kids watch per day is sickening but is also a good opportunity to make some big changes. TV has a lot of negative side effects, but those can be stymied by doing jumping jacks during commercial breaks and in between shows. Same thing goes for kids who spend all day on the computer. Running up and down the stairs, doing sit-ups or push-ups, stretching, or coming up with their own physical activities to break up the time in front of a computer screen keeps muscles moving and eliminates brain drain.
Step 5: Help Make Dinner: Plan the daily dinner menu with the kids and have them help do the shopping. If cooking is a fun experience that they have control over, they will not just learn about making healthy choices, they will be excited to do so. They will also learn nutrition and portion control information, reinforce math and reading skills by following recipes, and meal prep time is a great family bonding activity.
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