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5 Tips for Preventing Childhood Obesity

You have the power to help prevent a child from becoming one of the growing number of kids who are obese. Whether you’re a parent, teacher, or guardian, simple steps help kids learn and develop healthy eating habits, so they enjoy a lifelong healthy weight that supports an active, confident lifestyle.

This isn’t about putting children on a diet. Calorie-restriction and labeling foods as “good” and “bad” sets them up for failure. Instead, model healthy behaviors and help kids understand how they can make nutritious choices.

At South Plains Rural Health Services in Levelland, Lamesa, and Big Spring, Texas, we offer pediatrics services that can help your child to thrive. Here are some practices our experienced staff recommends when it comes to preventing your child from becoming obese and suffering the subsequent health effects.

Model healthy eating

Children tune into what you do. If you eat healthy, they’re more likely to as well. Fill your pantry and fridge with items that support nutrition like:

At home, drink water when you’re thirsty, and minimize sugary drinks. Keep treats for special occasions, like birthdays and holidays. If you aren’t sure what constitutes better choices when it comes to food choices, reach out to our offices for suggestions and guidance.

Make activity a daily practice

Help your child make physical activity part of their day. Physical activity can help prevent obesity as well as help your child develop strong bones, decrease their blood pressure, reduce stress, and improve their self-esteem. Children up until age 6 should just be naturally active throughout the day.

Older kids benefit from at least an hour of activity, some of which should be climbing or strength movements, like push-ups or hanging on monkey bars. 

Go for frequent walks, take your kids to the nearby playground, stage impromptu dance parties, and encourage outdoor play whenever possible. Physical activity should be a family affair. Having everyone participate means your child isn’t singled out.

Encourage less sitting

School, homework, and reading do require quiet time, but you can limit the hours your child spends watching television and playing video games in their free time.

Although screens seem like they’re everywhere, you can take steps to minimize your child’s exposure.

Model by limiting your own screen time. Look for apps that help lock your child out of certain games or devices after a set period of time. Keep devices out of your kids’ bedrooms, and set times during the week that are always screen-free, like mealtimes or mornings before school starts,

Offer active diversions to make screen time less desirable. Set up a game of catch or freeze tag or plan a trip to the park.  

Support good sleep habits

Too little sleep can affect a child’s weight. When sleep-deprived, hunger hormones shift, which can cause hunger. Plus, when your child is tired, they’re not too excited about physical activity. Children need 8-14 hours per night, depending on their age.

To help your child get the sleep they need, give them a set bedtime, and make your child’s room cool, dark, and free of electronics.

Don’t make your child clean their plate

Respect your child’s appetite. If they don’t finish everything on their plate, it’s OK. And, if they come back and say they’re hungry later – offer them healthy snack alternatives like cut-up fruit or air-popped popcorn. Don’t let them skip meals to leave room for snack foods like chips and cookies. 

If your child readily cleans their plate, wait about 15 minutes before offering seconds. This gives their fullness cues a chance to set in so they can determine if they really are still hungry.

We at South Plains Rural Health Services are here to help you promote the best nutrition and health for your children. Call today for an appointment, or book online to learn more about how we can support your child’s long-term wellbeing. 

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