Childhood obesity is on the rise. According to the CDC, in 1980 the prevalence of obesity in children aged 6 to 10 was 6.5% compared to 19.6% in 2008. Among adolescents aged 12 to 19, obesity has grown from 5.0% to 18.1%. That is a whopping 13% increase in childhood obesity in 28 years.
At this rate, some believe this will be the first generation of parents to outlive their children. Childhood obesity is an expensive employee health issue now and will continue to be so into the next generation if parents don't intervene. Let's look at the factors parents can control.
What Can I Do as a Parent?
The main responsibility of a parent is ensuring the safety, health, and well being of their child. Children come into this world knowing only what they learn from their parents and immediate surroundings. If your child is carrying around excess weight, as a responsible parent it is your job to explore any avenue you can to keep your child healthy. Here are some ideas to get your child on the road to living a long, healthy life:
- Teach your child that exercise and play can be fun. The American Heart Association recommends that children and adolescents participate in at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day. Treat this as an opportunity to spend quality time together and learn more about what your child enjoys. Explore new activities together like bike riding, going to the park, walking the family pet, jumping in a local bounce house, or joining them in another favorite activity.
- Set an example. Children learn from their parents. Your child will generally pick up any habits that you have or practice. Use this to your advantage and keep it in mind in everything you do. If you currently have the luxury of using a corporate fitness facility, take what you have learned and incorporate it into your home life.
- Make fresh, healthy foods available. Ultimately, you or your spouse is responsible for the grocery shopping. Bring home a variety of fresh fruits, veggies, and healthy snacks for the family to enjoy together. If you don't buy the bad stuff, it won't be around for them to eat. Your kids don't like produce? Start with the sweeter fruits like strawberries or apples that they are more likely to enjoy. If you need to, keep around a low-sugar or low-fat dip like fat-free CoolWhip for them eat along with fruit.
Take Responsibility for Your Child's Health
Keep these tips in mind as you point your child toward living a healthy lifestyle. Don't hesitate to start taking some personal responsibility for your child's future. We don't want to outlive our children!