It is no secret that childhood obesity is a problem in America. Officially, obesity in children is defined as a body fat level that is over 30 percent for girls and 25 percent for boys. Unlike adults, children’s Body Mass Index (BMI) scale is measured according to age and gender, as height changes frequently.
In our special report: Is Our Food Killing Us? Diet, Nutrition, and Health in 21st Century America, we tackled this subject in depth, taking a look at some of the “myths and facts” surrounding the idea of describing obesity as an “epidemic.” Any while the opinion varies on the severity of the problem, there is no denying some of the staggering statistics and facts:
The CDC reports that children who are obese are likely to grow up to be obese adults and are at risk for issues like heart disease, type-2 diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer, and osteoarthritis. It is also theorized that it is actually costing Americans a lot of money. Studies indicate that “the direct and indirect costs of obesity are more than $190 billion annually and preventing as few as 5% of new cases of chronic conditions, including obesity and related complications, would reduce Medicare and Medicaid spending by nearly $5.5 billion a year by 2030.” There are also reports that indicate that by 2030, half of all adults (115 million people) in the United States will be obese.
Preventative care begins at home. Parents can help by developing healthy eating habits for themselves and their household, so children are less likely to grow into obese adults. And while leading by example is always an effective tool, working with your kids to help them ingrain healthy eating habits doesn’t hurt either. Teaching your kids to eat healthily on an interactive level can be a challenge and come off as a chore if you're constantly defining healthy food and eating according to a text book, but it doesn’t have to. There are so many creative and fun ways to get kids to learn healthy habits without making it feeling like work for them. From games and tools to productive dinner table talk, you can teach your kids all about healthy eating in a way that is both fun and easily digested. Here are some of our favorite ways to help kids learn the do’s and don’ts of healthy eating.
Have Fun with Food
Getting kids to eat anything, not just vegetables, can be a challenge. With picky palates, children often snub anything that doesn’t include a value-meal toy. To get them to try new things, parents are turning to playing with food to get them engaged with different dishes. How, you may ask? By making the food funny-looking of course! By creating silly faces, using funny ketchup designs, and even simply slicing foods differently, they're getting kids to dig in to dinners with more fervor than before. Just check out these great ideas from parents with picky kids just like yours!
Grow a Garden
Children are interactive learners. By growing a garden with them, you can not only give them the tools they need to be an expert home botanist, you’ll pique their curiosity for different foods since they had a hand in growing them!