Raising healthy children in today’s supersized and super busy world can be quite the challenge. It’s tempting to give in to the convenience of fast food and sedentary lifestyles, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that obesity affects 1 out of 6 children and teens in the United States, putting them at risk for serious health problems like Type 2 diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
Organizing active family outings and providing healthy snacks are two ways to model healthy choices for kids.
Stanley E. Grogg, DO, an osteopathic pediatrician from Tulsa, Oklahoma, shares easy tips for parents to help their children make healthier choices, lead healthier lives and combat childhood obesity.
Focusing on preventive care, Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine, or DOs, look beyond your symptoms to consider how environmental and lifestyle factors impact your health. DOs can partner with you to help you not only get healthy, but to set appropriate goals by taking your health history into account.
5 Ways to Be Healthier
- Approach healthy eating the right way.
“When talking about nutrition, explain to kids that healthy foods make their mind and body strong,” says Dr. Grogg. “Kids tend to respond to that competitive edge.” He suggests that you let children choose healthy foods during trips to the grocery store because it gives them a sense of ownership in the process.
- Stay on track with healthy snacks.
It’s not just about healthy options at breakfast, lunch and dinner but everything in between meals. Dr. Grogg recommends fruits, low-sugar cereals, low-fat dairy products, vegetables, grains, and lean, unprocessed meats as snacks. “Cut up fruit and veggies and store them in containers on a low shelf in the fridge so kids can easily see them and reach them,” Dr. Grogg suggests.
- Get the whole family moving.
“Children and teens need 60 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity every day, if possible,” says Dr. Grogg. “Physical activity strengthens bones, decreases blood pressure, reduces stress and anxiety, and increases confidence and self-esteem.” Dr. Grogg recommends scheduling family physical activity time such as hikes, bike rides and even walking on a regular basis. He also advises families to start in moderation so children see the activities as fun rather than punishment.
- Rethink that drink.
Dr. Grogg recommends limiting your intake of sugary drinks, including fruit juices, which can to significantly reduce caloric intake and risk of tooth decay.
- Limit the tech time.
“All that inactive time spent texting and playing video games is a huge risk factor for obesity,” says Dr. Grogg. Encourage children to find fun activities to do with family, pets, friends, or on their own that involve more physical activity and less screen time. You’ll also help them avoid mindless snacking. He advises no screen time for kids under 2 years old and no more than two hours per day of screen time, which includes the internet and video games, for older children.