By: Dr. Sarah E. Laibstain
Did you know that according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 6 children in the United States are obese? With over 12 million obese children in the U.S., obesity increases the risk of having chronic health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes and asthma. As September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, it provides a chance to learn ways to prevent obesity and support healthy growth in children. While there is not always a simple solution, there are many opportunities to support a child’s healthy lifestyle.
A healthy lifestyle can begin at home with active family activities and a balanced nutrition plan. Obesity may be influenced by a combination of a lack of sleep, too much time being inactive, easy access to high calorie foods, and sugary beverages. Making small changes throughout your household can create a positive impact on your child’s health and energy levels. Providing nutritious, lower-calorie foods such as fruits and vegetables in place of sugary foods is a great way to ensure a healthy diet for your children. For school lunches, try switching out a bag of chips for a side of veggies!
Meal prepping on the weekends is an opportunity to save time and money while making grocery shopping much easier. Also, making a list of all the ingredients needed for the week decreases the likeliness that you will stray from your healthy grocery shopping agenda and make unhealthy decisions. There are many quick and healthy meal prep recipes that can help you and your family enjoy a stress-free week.
Activity level is just as important as a healthy diet. Help your children get the recommended amount of physical activity by encouraging family outings such as bike riding or walking around the neighborhood or nearby park. North Dallas offers a variety of low-cost physical activities such as community pools, parks and trails. Since children tend to pick up on their parents’ habits, staying active and making healthy meal choices can help encourage your children to live the same healthy lifestyle.
As the school year continues and schedules become busier, finding time to stay active with your family can become harder. Fortunately, the community and education system offer great physical activities to help children stay active. From elementary school to high school, children are offered a variety of ways to stay active with opportunities varying from recess to organized sports team. Also, many North Dallas communities offer youth sporting organizations for an even wider variation of activities. Researching opportunities to stay active in your community could help your children find new hobbies or interests they may really enjoy.
National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month is a great reminder of the importance of planning healthy meal options and staying active. These efforts can help not just children but the whole family live a healthier lifestyle.
Dr. Sarah E. Laibstain is a general family medicine practitioner at Family Medicine Associates of Texas in Carrollton. She thoroughly enjoys improving the health and lives of individuals ranging from young children to adulthood.