Smilig Boy In the ongoing battle against childhood obesity, it looks like things may be in a turnaround. In a new study following 9,000 adolescents published in the journal Pediatrics, researchers found that between 2001 and 2009, the participants increased their physical activity, ate more vegetables and fewer sweets, and spent less time watching TV. While the average body mass index (BMI) percentile increased from 2001 to 2006, there was no significant increase from 2006 to 2010, which could be an indication that the obesity trend is stabilizing.

Helping your child live a healthy lifestyle

Being overweight carries a host of health problems, including higher risks for diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. There are many ways you can help your child live a healthy lifestyle and avoid childhood obesity. Here are some guidelines:

  • Your child should engage in some physical activity for one to two hours every day. It would be ideal for her to get outside for sports, tag or jump rope.
  • Limit screen time to one hour a day — and no screen time at all for children younger than 2 years of age.
  • Don’t give your child soda or other sugary beverages such as sports drinks and juices. Water and milk are the best beverages for children.
  • Make your meals as healthy as possible. Serve whole-grain foods, such as whole-grain bread, cereal, rice and pasta; protein-rich foods, such as lean meats, seafood, beans, nuts and seeds; calcium-rich foods, such as low-fat milk, fat-free or low-fat yogurt and cheese, and don’t forget fruits and vegetables, and stay away from fried foods. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has handy Daily Food Plans & Worksheets to help you make healthy food choices based on your child’s age.
  • Model healthy behavior. If you exercise and eat well, you are providing a great example for your children.

Contributed by: Patrick S. Pasquariello, MD

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