Healthy eating habits in youth can last a lifetime
September is National Childhood Obesity Month, a time for us to encourage youth to develop healthy habits that can last a lifetime.
All kids deserve to experience the positive health benefits of daily physical activity and healthy eating, and have those opportunities available to them.
Over the past 30 years, the childhood obesity rate in America has almost tripled. According to the Center for Disease Control, in 2010, approximately 17 percent of children and adolescents aged 2-19 years were already obese, according to the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS). Also, children and teenagers who are obese are more likely to become obese adults. Overweight and obese youth are at greater risk of developing serious adult health problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, certain types of cancer, as well as osteoarthritis.
According to the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, children and adolescents aged 6-17 years should spend 60 minutes or more being physical active each day. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010, released by HHS and the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, provide nutritional guidance for Americans to promote good health, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and reduce the prevalence of overweight and obesity. The guidelines recommend balancing calories with physical activity, and encourage Americans to consume more healthy foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, and seafood, and to consume less sodium, saturated and trans fats, added sugars, and refined grains.
Remember, the road to healthy eating starts at home. It is important to teach children the difference between everyday snacks, such as fruits and veggies, and occasional snacks, such as cookies or other sweets. For a handy snack, keep cut-up fruits and vegetables like carrots, peppers, or orange slices in the refrigerator. One way to do this is by swapping out your cookie jar for a basket filled with fresh fruit.
Also, make water a staple of snack time. Try adding a slice of lemon, lime, or a splash of 100 percent juice to your water for a little flavor.
To learn more about National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month or for tips on how to help your kids lead healthy lifestyle visit http://www.fitness.gov. To learn more about the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 visit http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/. To learn more about the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans visit http://www.health.gov/paguidelines/guidelines/default.aspx.
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