September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, dedicated to educating children and their families on how to prevent childhood obesity. According to the CDC, about 1 in 5 American children has obesity. Compared to children with healthy weight, children who are overweight or obese are at a higher risk for health problems such as asthma, sleep apnea, bone and joint problems, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
Childhood obesity is a complex disease with multiple contributing factors, including genetics, eating patterns, physical activity levels, and sleep routines. While there is no one solution to addressing obesity, there are many ways parents and caregivers can help children have a healthy weight and set up lifelong healthy habits at home. Taking small steps as a family can help your child stay at a healthy weight. In honor of National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, Whittier Street Health Center encourages your family to make healthy changes together:
- Get active outside: Walk around the neighborhood, go on a bike ride, or play basketball at the park. Children aged 3–5 years should be physically active throughout the day. Children aged 6–17 years need at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day.
- Limit screen time: Keep screen time (time spent on the computer, watching TV, or playing video games) to 2 hours or less a day.
- Make healthy meals: Frozen and canned fruits and vegetables are often less expensive than fresh and still good for you. Help your children get the nutrients they need by making half their plate fruits and vegetables. Help kids rethink their drink by replacing sugary drinks, such as soda, fruit drinks, and flavored milk, with water, 100% juice, or plain low-fat milk.
- Set Consistent Sleep Routines: Good sleep helps prevent type 2 diabetes, obesity, injuries, and problems with attention and behavior.
Talk to your child’s healthcare provider if you are concerned about potential health risks associated with excess weight. To schedule an appointment for your child, please call the Pediatrics Department at (617) 858-2436.