OSF HealthCare pediatric physician explains how parents should help children maintain a healthy weight and avoid obesity

Providing your children with the means to live an active and healthy lifestyle is a crucial step in preparing them for a prosperous adulthood. With childhood obesity on the rise, parents must instill good behaviors in their children at a young age in order to prevent health concerns.

Asma Khan, DO, a pediatrician at OSF HealthCare, said, “Children who are overweight are more likely to develop diabetes, experience feelings of isolation, and struggle with self-esteem.”

Maintaining a healthy weight during childhood helps reduce the risk of current and future health problems.

“Developing good behaviors at a young age is the most effective method to maintain a healthy weight,” Dr. Khan stated.

Dr. Khan explains how to raise healthy children who mature into healthy adults.

1. Teach about hunger and fullness cues

When the snacks are around, it is often easier to eat when we are bored or depressed. Children must be taught to recognize when they are hungry and when they are full in order for them to eat appropriately.

2. Use child-sized plates

Using a child-sized plate is an excellent method for determining how much food your child needs to consume at each meal. The second half of the dish should contain lean protein, such as fish, poultry, or beans, and a whole grain, such as oats, whole grain bread, or brown rice.

3. Be a good role model

Have you ever heard your child use a phrase that you knew he or she had acquired from you? Children mimic the behavior of the adults in their lives.

“Make changes to your lifestyle as a family. “As a parent, you cannot expect your children to make healthy adjustments if you are unwilling to do so yourself,” Dr. Khan stated.

Walk or ride a bicycle with your children, take them swimming, and play with them in the park. Your children will desire to live an active lifestyle if they observe you doing so.

4. Healthy snacks and drinks

Snacks that are heavy in sugar and fat might lead to weight gain and other health issues. Reserving beverages and food such as soda, juice, sports drinks, chips, cookies, candies, and cupcakes for special occasions. Instead, choose carrots and hummus, an apple, or kale chips.

“I also advise parents to restrict the amount of junk food brought into the home. “There is less incentive to consume junk food if it is not in the home,” Dr. Khan explained.

5. Encourage daily physical activity

It is necessary for children to get up and move around. In addition to helping youngsters maintain a healthy weight, increasing physical activity is also related with stronger bones, lower blood pressure, and less anxiety.

“Aim for at least 60 minutes of daily physical activity,” Dr. Khan said.

Even 15-minute bursts of activity spread throughout the day are beneficial. It could be playing tag in the backyard, dancing along to dance videos, or cycling around the neighborhood.

6. Cut screen time

Too much screen time is hazardous to the health and well-being of children. The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry recommends approximately two hours per day of screen time. At night, remove cell phones and other electronic gadgets from children’s bedrooms and limit their screen time throughout the day. This will guarantee that children receive sufficient sleep and physical activity, all of which are essential for living a healthy life.

Put them in control

Children may be resistant if too many dietary and behavioral modifications are implemented simultaneously. Engage children in a healthy lifestyle. Let them assist you decide on one or two modifications to your family’s lifestyle.

Children also enjoy feeling in charge of their environment. Take them grocery shopping with you so they can select a few new fruits and vegetables to try. When the groceries arrive, involve the children by having them help you store the food or prepare a salad or other dish for supper. Keeping children engaged will empower them to make good lifestyle choices as adults.

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