One out of three American children is overweight, a condition unacceptable to First Lady Michelle Obama, who recently launched the first salvo in her campaign against childhood obesity. In response to her concern, President Obama signed a memorandum on February 8, 2010, that created a national task force to address the issue. Members consist of the major heads of government agencies, and their charge is to define and implement ways to reverse the worrisome trend.
the task force is convening, researchers suggest three actions parents can take
today to ensure that their child will maintain a normal weight and develop
healthy habits that will carry into adulthood. In a study
of 8,550 children, researchers led by Dr. Sarah Anderson
February is National Parent Leadership Month. Here’s how parents can lead their kids in becoming healthy and FIT:
F: Focus on eating meals tog
I: Institute a nightly routine for bedtime to ensure that children get adequate rest. School-age children need 10 to 11 hours of sleep a night. A survey in 2004 by the National Sleep Foundation found that American school-age children were, on average, sleeping less than 10 hours a night. This deficit can contribute to surplus pounds.
T: Turn off the television. Take control of and limit all screen time (DVD, video, video game, computer and television use). In one study, children ages 8 to 18 averaged nearly six hours a day of screen time. When limiting use, consider the age of the child: no television viewing before age 2, no more than one to two hours a day for preschool children and no more than two hours a day for school-age children.
These three practices will help your child avoid the discrimination and social embarrassment of being overweight as well as future medical problems associated with surplus pounds. As an added bonus, your child will perform better in school and be less likely to get into trouble.
Pediatricians, healthcare professionals and others who work with children, while concerned that childhood obesity rates have tripled in the past 30 years, also assure us that we can eliminate the scourge of childhood obesity. They agree with First Lady Obama that the problem is “imminently solvable.” But to reverse the trend, we’ll need to make these and other changes that enhance fitness. Government intervention, national task forces and school programs are needed and appreciated, but nothing is as powerful as parental leadership. Childhood obesity can be reversed—one child at a time, one family at a time.