About 1 of every 3 children in the United States is obesity or overweight which is putting kids at risk for health problems that were once seen only in adults, like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. The good news, however, is that childhood obesity can be prevented with lifestyle changes. In honor of National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, eMedical Pediatric Care in Berkeley Heights and Middletown, NJ encourages your family to make healthy changes together and start the school year off on the right foot.
September is National Childhood Obesity Month
Taking simple steps (literally) as a family can help your child stay at a healthy weight. Here are a few tips to get started:
- Get outside and get active – make fitness fun. Walk around the neighborhood, go for a bike ride, simply play at the park! Create environments that support exercise and encourage children to try new sports until they find one that they enjoy. The more they love the activity, the more they’ll want to participate.
- Limit screen time (time spent on the computer, watching TV, playing video games) to less than two hours a day; for children under the age of 2, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time at all. Since studies consistently show that the more screen time children have, the more likely they are to gain excess weight, consider setting up an “allowance” for screen time to help implement these limits.
- Prioritize breakfast. Choose healthy options to ‘break the fast’ in the morning, jump start metabolism levels and get energy to do more during the day.
- Make healthy meals at home. Encourage your children to eat more vegetables, fruits and high-fiber foods. Get creative in your presentation so even the pickiest eater will enjoy snack time!
- Watch out for portion distortion. Portion sizes are much bigger than they used to be, and if a child is eating an adult-sized (super) serving, those extra calories can contribute to obesity.
- Avoid added sugars. Currently, the average child in the U.S. gets 50 to 75 grams of added sugar per day, or about two to three times the recommended amount. Mary Poppins may need to find a new way to make the medicine go down now that new recommendations from the American Heart Association say children should consume no more than six teaspoons (25 grams) of added sugars daily.
- Establish a regular bedtime routine ensuring children get adequate sleep every night. Sleep is especially important for children as it directly impacts mental and physical development. Additionally, much research has revealed a strong connection between inadequate sleep and being overweight, making it just as important as exercise and nutrition. Experts from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommend 11-14 hours for toddlers (1-2 years), 10-13 hours for preschoolers (3-5 years), 9-11 hours for school-aged children (6-13), and 8-10 hours for teenagers (14-17 years) to help ward off risks of obesity, diabetes, illnesses and even cancer.
September is Also Childhood Cancer Awareness Month
A child is diagnosed with cancer every three and a half minutes. Despite this unsettling statistic, thankfully childhood cancers are relatively rare, making up less than 1% of all cancer diagnosis each year. But the rarity of childhood cancers makes them generally less known than adult cancers. And unlike adult cancers, there are no lifestyle-related risk factors that are known to influence a child’s risk of getting cancer.
Go Gold this September during Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month to honor and remember children and families affected by these rare diseases and help give kids with cancer better outcomes by supporting research.
eMedical Pediatric Care in Berkeley Heights and Middletown, NJ
At eMedical Pediatric Care in Berkeley Heights and Middletown, NJ, we not only treat a wide array of injuries but also administer school physicals keeping kids healthy all year long. Learn more about our services and how we can treat you and your family by calling our location in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey (908) 464-6700, or Middletown, New Jersey (732) 957-0707.