Eating Right for Your Family
According to the CDC, about one in five children in the United States is overweight or obese. Childhood obesity puts 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 is that childhood obesity is preventable.
President Barack Obama established the first-ever Task Force on Childhood Obesity to develop and implement an inter-agency plan of action to end the problem of childhood obesity within a generation. Let’s Move! is the initiative, launched by the First Lady Michelle Obama, supporting the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award challenge. This challenge helps individuals commit to regular physical activity and healthy eating and rewards them for it.
September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, and families are encouraged to make healthy changes together.
Get active outside: Walk around the neighborhood, go on a bike ride, play basketball or throw a Frisbee at the park.
Limit screen time: Keep screen time (computer, TV, video games) to no more than 2 hours a day.
Make healthy meals: Eat more vegetables, fruits and whole-grain foods.
Be aware of portion distortion and how much you eat at meals, especially when dining out. Average portion sizes have increased in the last 20 years, and many restaurants serve a plate of food with enough for two. Growing portion sizes eaten out affect what we think of as "normal" portions at home too.
Host a community fitness event where families can get active while learning about local health and fitness resources at your school, in your neighborhood, nearby park, place of worship or community center.
Taking steps as a family to modify behavior or develop healthy habits can help your child stay at a healthy weight. It is important to recognize that many factors can contribute to a person’s weight: environment, family history, genetics and metabolism. Tackling obesity as a community is not about body shaming or assuming that there is an ideal body type. Obesity is a national problem; education and awareness are the first steps in finding solutions.
The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion provided the following guidelines based on recent health studies and scientific evidence:
2016 American Nutrition Guidelines
Healthy eating helps to prevent chronic diseases, obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes.
Healthy eating is one of the most powerful tools we have to reduce the onset of disease.
Follow a healthy eating pattern that is right for you. Eating patterns are the combination of foods and drinks you eat over time and are adaptable to a person’s taste preferences, traditions, culture and budget.
Healthy Eating Includes:
A variety of vegetables: dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas), starchy and other vegetables
Fruits, especially whole fruit
Grains, at least half of which are whole grain
Fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese, and/or fortified soy beverages
A variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), soy products, and nuts and seeds
Oils, including those from plants: canola, corn, olive, peanut, safflower, soybean and sunflower. Oils also are naturally present in nuts, seeds, seafood, olives and avocados.
Limit sugar. Less than 10% of daily calories should come from added sugars. ChooseMyPlate.gov provides more information about added sugars and syrups in processed/prepared foods and beverages. This does not include naturally occurring sugars in milk and fruits.
Limit saturated and trans fats. Less than 10% of daily calories should come from saturated fats. Foods high in saturated fat include butter, whole milk, meats not labeled lean and tropical oils such as coconut and palm oil. Replace saturated fats with unsaturated fats, such as canola or olive oil.
Limit sodium. Adults and children ages 14 years and over should limit sodium to less than 2,300 mg per day, and children younger than 14 years should consume even less. Use the Nutrition Facts label to check for sodium, especially in processed foods like pizza, pasta dishes, sauces and soups.
Make small shifts in daily eating habits to improve health over the long run. Small shifts in food choices over the course of a week, a day or even a meal—can make a difference in creating a healthy eating pattern that works.
Remember physical activity! According to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, adults need at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity each week and should perform muscle-strengthening exercises on two or more days each week. Children ages 6 to 17 years need at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day, including aerobic, muscle-strengthening and bone-strengthening activities.
Everyone has a role– at home, school, work, in the community and food retail outlets – in encouraging easy and affordable ways to support healthy choices.