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August 12, 2010

Physical and Mental Benefits of Childhood Fitness

diabGuest Blog by Amanda T.

Kids health news is dismal these days; growing children are currently at risk for falling victim to one of the largest health epidemics this country has seen in many decades. Childhood obesity has tripled in the last thirty years, and the number of adults with serious health issues has increased significantly as a result.

Children who are obese during important developmental stages are more susceptible to lifelong issues such as heart disease, arthritis, asthma, Type 2 diabetes, and more. Rather than allowing your children to snack on processed foods and empty calories, try introducing more fruits and vegetables into their diets. Avoid defrosting frozen meals for dinner, and attempt making one healthy meal a week.

fruitPreservatives, artificial hormones, and processed foods have the ability to alter a child’s tastes, as well as their metabolism. Do your best to eliminate sugary snacks and unnatural sweeteners and replace them with raw carrots and broccoli (or whatever vegetable you can get your child to eat). You will be surprised how your children’s taste buds can change! Eventually they may be happy to eat raw broccoli, or they may lose the taste for sugary cereals and sodas altogether.

The social implications of childhood obesity have the ability to cause severe psychological distress and trauma in kids and adolescents. Not only can children feel different than other kids, but they will also have trouble keeping up on the playground, they may not participate in PE programs and games, they may not feel confident enough to join sports teams, and they can often be chosen last for teams during kids PE games or recess.

These issues have the ability to create antisocial tendencies, low self-esteem, and feelings of self-worthlessness. In some children, this can cause lifelong psychological trauma and confidence issues. As they get older, they may begin to develop health problems, which will only increase the likelihood of depressive tendencies. The body and mind are very closely linked, and mental well-being can be greatly affected by physical health.

A great way to encourage mental well-being in children, despite weight issues, is to consistently encourage physical activity. Limit your kids’ sedentary time in front of the television, computer, or video games. Make exercising more about fun rather than about health or appearance. Implement exercise in daily tasks such as walking around the neighborhood after dinner, or if you live close enough, try to walk your kids to school, to the park, and to their friends’ houses. Simple steps such as these can make a huge difference in your child’s health.

The health and mental risks of obesity among children are very real, and very serious. Take action now to help your child develop into a strong and healthy adult with positive habits, and high self-esteem. There are more than enough obstacles for them to face without considering their weight, so do your part in ensuring their health at a young age!

Author Byline

Amanda is a writer and blogger living in San Diego, CA. She writes on behalf of SPARK PE which strives to foster environmental and behavioral change by providing Physical Education, After School, Early Childhood, and Coordinated School Health programs to teachers and recreation leaders serving Pre-K through 12th grade students.

July 23, 2010

7 tips to protect your child from obesity

Filed under: Parenting Tips — Tags: , — Erin @ 6:00 am

Guest blog by Alex C.
obesity-advertisingObesity is one of the most serious problems of our century and unfortunately it affects people of all ages. Childhood obesity is a growing problem and research shows that the percentage of overweight children has doubled in the last decade. The health problems created from obesity are a lot (diabetes and heart disease to name a few) and it is vital that care is taken by parents to protect their children from this nasty disease. The good news is that there are various ways to help your children lose weight from an early age and avoid becoming obese when they grow up and this is exactly what we are going to discuss in this article.

The first thing that you need to be aware of is that the fat cells are present in children from the age of two. At this early age this is normal but if this trend continues as they grow up they end up with a high percentage of fat in their body that is difficult to get rid of. It is thus very important to deal with this situation from an early age and take all the necessary precautions to prevent this from happening.

One of the measures you can take is to help your children minimize the consumption of sweets, soft drinks and generally food and snacks that are high in fats and sugars. These items contain a lot of “empty calories” meaning that they do not have any nutritional benefit to offer to the body other than adding to the fat cells. Many of the foods offered in fast food restaurants fall into this category as well as deep fried food and food that is full of  saturated fats. Instead you should guide your children to consume more fruits and vegetables, natural and organic food, non-processed foods, fish, poultry and legumes.

While the above suggestion may sound very hard to implement since it covers nearly everything that your children may be eating, you can succeed when you approach the whole process correctly. As a start you should not try to restrict your children from eating what they want by force but you can try the following tips:

  1. Remove any sweets, chocolates, and sodas from the house. Make sure that when you visit the grocery store you buy only healthy food.
  2. Start eating healthier yourself leading the way to a healthier diet. Children are influenced by their parent’s habits so you should lead by example.
  3. Try to explain to them the dangers from eating unhealthy and how difficult this will be when they grow up.
  4. Give them alternatives where possible; for example a bag of popcorn is much healthier than a bar of chocolate.
  5. Encourage your child to play fun health and nutrition games to reinforce good food choices and healthy eating, as well as demonstrate the importance of exercise and fitness.
  6. Reward them when they are moving in the right direction. Although some experts suggest that you should not associate food with punishment or rewards, sometimes it can be beneficial to give a prize to your child when they start making healthier choices.
  7. Teach them to drink a lot of water. Water is great for many reasons and when they are accustomed to drinking a lot of water from an early age this will make a lot of things in the process easier.

Finally, the earlier in a child’s age you address the problem of obesity the better. If it’s possible you should start thinking about this during pregnancy by taking care of your eating habits. Remember that the effort you need to take as a parent when your children is still young will help them a lot in the course of their life and protect them from many unwanted situations.

alexAlex C. writes about healthy weight loss topics. All of his articles are based on healthy ways to lose weight and he has dedicated articles for weight loss tips for kids.

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