ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – Nearly one out of four children and teens in developed countries is overweight or obese. Many argue that parents play a big role in helping kids adopt unhealthy habits. So, what can you do to improve the outlook for your child?
Obesity is the most common chronic disease affecting children. “The predominance of screens for activity instead of real activity, the elimination of physical education in schools is contributing to obesity,” said Marc I. Leavey, MD, a Primary Care Physician at Mercy Personal Physicians at Lutherville.
Studies show eight to 18-year-olds spend an average of 7.5 hours a day in front of screens. And on any given day, more than one-third of children and teens eat fast food. How can parents help reverse the trend? One study found four-year-olds who ate regularly with their families and had limited screen time and enough sleep were 40% less likely to be obese.
Young children need anywhere from 10 hours to 18 hours of sleep depending on their age. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests limiting screen time to one or two hours a day and having “screen-free” zones in children’s bedrooms and at dinner. Studies show you might also want to be careful of giving babies and toddlers too many antibiotics. They could alter gut bacteria in an unhealthy way and increase the risk of obesity.
Aim for at least one hour of physical activity a day. And consume mostly whole, unprocessed foods. If you need help, apps like Kurbo Health Coaching provide ways for families to set goals and track their progress. And new parents, don’t rely too much on strollers. Using them excessively as a toddler could keep kids from getting the exercise they need and reinforce the idea that it’s OK to be sedentary.