Did you know that an obese teen has more than a 70% chance of being obese as an adult?1
As parents there is a lot we can do prevent obesity.
First be sure that everyone in your family is getting plenty of exercise.
• Children, age 6 and older should do 1 hour (60 minutes) or more of physical activity every day.
• Most of the 1 hour or more a day should be either moderate- or vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity.
• As part of their daily physical activity, children and adolescents should do vigorous-intensity activity on at least 3 days per week. They also should do muscle-strengthening and bone-strengthening activity on at least 3 days per week (from 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines, US Department of Health and Human Services).
Exercises like walking, running, cycling, swimming, jumping rope, games that involve a lot movement, etc are some examples. Parents can be an example for their kids. Adults need exercise too. It is recommended that adults between the age of 18-64:
• Should do 2 hours and 30 minutes a week of moderate-intensity, such as walking at a nice easy pace, or 1 hour and 15 minutes (75 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, such as walking at a brisk pace or jogging, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity. Aerobic activity should be performed in episodes of at least 10 minutes, preferably spread throughout the week.
• Additional health benefits are provided by increasing to 5 hours (300 minutes) a week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity (1 hour, 5 days a week), or 2 hours and 30 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity physical activity, or an equivalent combination of both.
• Adults should also do muscle-strengthening activities that involve all major muscle groups performed on 2 or more days per week.
Also, No more than 2 hours of screen time a day.
Weather its television, Wii, X-Box, computer, iTouch, iPad, or iPhone, limit its use! Everyone needs to exercise their bodies (not just their thumbs or index fingers). The body is meant to be moved, and if we don’t burn the calories we consume, we gain weight, and that can have unhealthy consequences. If they want to listen to their I-Pod while they walk, fine – at least their moving. Check out the new guidelines that are listed above and remember, parents can set a good example for their kids by being active too.
Just remember, some exercise is better than no exercise.
Even 10 minutes of exercise has health benefits. Try making incremental changes like taking the stairs rather than the elevator, or parking further away from your destination so you have to walk. Soon, exercise will be a regular part of your healthier lifestyle and you will feel better, too.
Exercise is only part of the equation, however.
Making sure your family eats healthy foods and are not eating more calories than they are burning each day is an essential part of weight management. Some simple healthy eating steps include:
Eliminate sweetened beverages from your family’s diet.
Beverages like soda, flavored waters, sports drinks, bottled or canned ice tea have a lot of sugar (check the labels), and because our bodies perspire water, to keep our body temperature regular, water is what we need to put back into our bodies, not a lot of artificial chemicals. A sweetened beverage on a rare occasion is fine, but a significant contributor to obesity is drinking way too many sweetened beverages and not enough of good old water.Did you know, that if you drank two 12 ounce sodas a day for a month you would consume 5 pounds of sugar? That’s 60 cans of soda which has 8400 calories. The average person would have to walk about 100 miles to burn that many calories (Fizzics of Soda, Health Edco).
Eat a rainbow of colors every day
It is important to eat a variety of natural foods and foods from all food groups. By now you have heard that we all should strive to eat 3-5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Sometimes it is easier to think of eating different colors of natural foods, rather than counting servings. And for the record, Velveeta cheese should not be considered “an orange food”. Try to eat foods that are that are natural not processed. While it is always better to eat foods that are in season and fresh, eating canned or frozen fruits and vegetables is fine. The important thing is to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables throughout the day.In Michael Pollan’s book, Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual, one of his rules is to eat foods that your great grandmother would recognize as food. Another one of his rules is if you cannot pronounce most of the ingredients then don’t buy it – it’s mostly processed and not good for you. By the way, this is a short and delightful book that is fun to share with the family.
Replace that white bread with a whole grain variety (sorry, that goes for bagels, hamburger buns, etc too).
Basically, you want to be eating nutrient rich foods. Whole grain foods are a significant source of B vitamins, essential for our body’s health. White bread, rice or pasta has more or less been stripped of its natural nutrient value, but through the “processing process” vitamins and mineral have been put back in, (that’s what the word “fortified” means on the packaging). Even though vitamins and minerals have been put back in, the white bread, rice or pasta is still a processed product and lacks the nutrition density of a whole grain product.Nutrition and ingredient labels can be confusing, but they are worth reading. Beware! If you are buying bread, be sure the label reads “100% Whole Wheat” or a 100% of some whole grain, says George Mateljan in his book, The World’s Healthiest Foods: Essential Guide for the Healthiest Way of Eating. Even if the label says “whole wheat”, it is still a refined and processed product. Check the ingredient list, advises Mateljan, if the first ingredient is not “whole wheat flour” then the product is primarily processed and lacks essential nutrients.
Cut back on your use of butter and salt.
For some this may be one of the toughest changes to make, so cut back gradually, but cut back. We all like tasty food. And for some, food just does not taste right without a shake of the salt shaker or a dab of butter. Well, you can think of that added butter and salt as added weights to a hot air balloon. More hot air has to be blown into the balloon to get it off the ground. Likewise, the added butter and salt make it harder for your heart to pump oxygen-rich blood efficiently through your body, so the heart has to work harder which can lead to high blood pressure increased of heart attacks and strokes, clogged arteries, etc. – in other words -.not good.Instead of salt or butter, experiment with small amounts of olive oil (rich in omega-3 fats – the good fats) and herbs such as chives, cilantro, thyme, and tarragon, or a drizzle of lemon juice. Try putting plain yogurt and some chives on your baked potato. Stir frying vegetables in 1 Tbsp of olive oil and some ground ginger is a healthy alternative, then toss the vegetables with a little low sodium soy sauce or balsamic vinegar. Be creative!
Be aware of portion size.
Portion size can be tricky since it is hard to gauge what is the right portion size. One thing to keep in mind is that we don’t need to eat as much as we may think we do. Michael Pollan suggests in his book, Food Rules, that we stop eating before we are full – that’s another good rule of thumb. Realize that portion size and servings are not the same thing. According to US Nutrition Guidelines, for a 2000 calorie diet per day, we should be eating 6 ounces of whole grains, 2 & ½ cups of vegetables, 2 cups of fruit, 3 cups of calcium rich foods, and 5.5 ounces of meats and beans. It’s not always easy to visualize what an ounce of meat actually looks like. The web site, mypryamid.gov may be of help.