A couple weeks ago, I wrote an article about childhood obesity and discovered an easy way to remember what we need to do to get our kids to live a healthy lifestyle.
In case you haven’t heard or noticed, childhood obesity is becoming a serious health problem in the U.S. More than 23 million kids in the U.S. are overweight or obese, enough for public health officials to call it an epidemic. The topic warrants attention because September is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month.
Being obese in childhood puts you at significant risk for other health problems down the road. These kids are greater risk for heart disease and diabetes, and all the complications that come with these conditions such as neuropathy, blindness and kidney failure.
To inspire a healthy lifestyle among kids, a group of health, business and community organizations in Maine launched 5-2-1-0 Let’s Go. The goal was simple but challenging: to increase physical activity and healthy eating for children and youth – from the time they’re born until the time they turn 18.
The formula was simple. Every day, you should urge your children to follow these rules:
* Eat 5 fruits and vegetables.
* Limit screen time to no more than 2 hours.
* Exercise for at least 1 hour.
* Drink 0 (or near 0) sugar-sweetened beverages.
Some of you may these ideas are crazy. After all, some kids may get their only fruit for the day from fruit juice. Anything more strenuous than a round of Guitar Hero might be too taxing, and cutting back on electronics may feel like social suicide for the text-happy teen.
As parents, we all know how hard it is to encourage our kids to eat healthy when they’ve got so many tastier, less healthy options to choose from. We know how hard it can be to pry them away from their electronic toys to send them outdoors to play. And trying to squeeze an hour of exercise into already busy schedules? There just doesn’t seem to be enough time in our days.
But we’ve gotten to the point where we have to do something. Maybe it’s setting a bowl of fruit on your kitchen table or taking the TV out of your child’s bedroom. Maybe it’s getting up a half hour earlier on weekends to take a morning walk with your child. Maybe it’s limiting soda to once a week instead of drinking it every day.
One thing is for certain: we all have to do something toward creating healthier habits in our children. Their futures depend on it.