Childhood obesity is a complex disease that affects 1 in 5 kids. Children that are overweight or obese are more likely to suffer from type 2 diabetes, asthma, heart disease, sleep apnea, etc. While there are many contributing factors to childhood obesity, there are ways parents can help their children live a healthy lifestyle.

Physical Activity

The CDC recommends children get at least one hour of physical activity per day. They can participate in aerobic exercises like running, swimming, or walking. They can also participate in anaerobic exercises like yoga or jumping rope.

Healthy Diet

Having a healthy diet helps children get the nutrients they need for proper development and a healthy weight. It is important for children to eat fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products. In 2017, just 2% of high school students ate enough vegetables, and only 7% ate enough fruit. Try filling your child’s plate with half fruits and vegetables.

Screen Time

According to the CDC, adults and children spend over 7 hours a day being sedentary and that doesn’t include sleeping. Most of these sedentary hours are spent sitting or laying down on a phone, watching TV, or playing video games. Too much screen time can lead to weight gain, poor sleep and mental health, and can cause lower grades in school. Shortening your child’s screen time can free up more space to participate in physical activity.

Less Sugar

Many people eat and drink too much added sugar which can lead to type 2 diabetes and obesity. Children under 2 years old should not have any added sugar to their diet and children over 2 years old should keep their sugar intake to less than 10% of their daily calorie intake. An easy way to watch sugar intake is to drink beverages like low-fat milk, water, or 100% juice, rather than soda and flavored beverages.

Adequate Sleep

Children 6-12 years old need 9-12 hours of uninterrupted sleep a night and youth 13-18 years old need 8-10 hours, however, many children do not get near this much sleep. Adequate sleep is imperative for young people because it can help prevent type 2 diabetes, obesity, injuries, poor mental health, etc. Getting too little sleep is related to obesity because it leaves more time for children to eat and have more screen time.

Don’t forget that childhood obesity is a complex disease and there are many contributing factors. Take into consideration that children learn best when they see adults leading by example, so remember to practice healthy living every day!