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By Hindy Cortright for The BioFit Center and Sports & Health Magazine.

 

More than one in five children between the ages of 6 and 17 are overweight, and the percentage of overweight children and adolescents has nearly tripled since the early 1970’s. *   These staggering statistics show that our children need our help to learn better eating and exercise habits.

 

 

To improve this grim statistics it is necessary to first get the whole family involved. It is hard to admit that parents play a key role in the process of teaching children healthy habits because children learn by example, therefore it is necessary for parents to become engaged in practicing healthy eating and exercise habits their children can follow.  Daily physical activity is beneficial for the health of the entire family and especially for the growing and changing bodies of children.

 

Four simple tips to help you and your child, have a fit lifestyle and live healthier.

1.      Play 60: The NFL (National Football League) created a “get fit” initiative for children called play 60. This program tells kids to do physical activity of any kind, every day for 60 minutes.  Make sure your child practices some type of sport or physical activity every day, for at least 60 minutes. It can be skating, biking, playing a sport, swimming or simply playing in park. Any activity that will allow them to exercise and sweat.  The most important thing is to make sure they execute it for 60 minutes.

 

2.      Plan healthy meals and snacks: School age children consume up to 50% of their daily calories while in school *, which emphasizes the importance to control what your child eats during the school day. Make sure to pack them not just a healthy lunch but also healthy snacks they can have throughout the day.  Some recommended healthy snacks for children are: yogurts,fruits, nuts, cheeses, all kinds of vegetables, whole grain breads, pastas, cereals and low sugar granola bars.

 

3.      Avoid drinking Sodas!: Sodas of any brand are loaded with sugar and empty calories, therefore children should avoid drinking sodas of any kind; instead, they should be offered water or other low sugar refreshment such as Crystal light.   One Diet soda a day is acceptable if necessary but remember, water is the best possible liquid they can consume for their health.  The culprit in soda is its “high fructose corn syrup “content (proven to be a major cause in today’s obesity statistics).

 

4.      Create balance:  Children’s bodies are in constant growth and they need lots of vitamin, minerals and nutrients. It is not recommended to put children on any type of calorie restrictive diet because it may negatively affect their health.  Children should eat protein every day, at least one serving with each meal (for example: eggs for breakfast, chicken, beef or fish for lunch and dinner. It is preferable to avoid eating these proteins deep fried.) As well as one serving of fruit or veggies wand whole grains with every meal. The key is portion control.  Should there be a deficit of nutrients, children should take a daily children’s multi vitamin as well.

 

Children are by nature curious and active, all they need is the right environment to release all their energy into play or exercise. Help your child find a sport he or she can join and perform regularly at least for one hour every day.

 

Healthy children have a better chance of becoming healthy adults who will enjoy a productive and long life and this is perhaps the most valuable gift you can give them as a parent.

 

 

* source: healthiergeneration.org