At a time when kids are maturing emotionally and physically, it’s important to set up good nutrition habits for the future. Help your child – and your whole family – eat healthy and stay physically active. The healthy habits your child learns now can last a lifetime.
What can I do to help my child stay at a healthy weight?
Help your child stay at a healthy weight by balancing what your child eats with physical activity. Two of the best ways to prevent your child from becoming overweight or obese are to:
- Help your child eat healthier foods
- Be more physically active as a family
You are a role model.
Parents are often the most important role models for children. When you choose to eat right and be physically active, your child will be more likely to make those choices, too.
Plus, being active and preparing healthy meals together are great ways to spend quality time with your family.
Why do I need to worry about my child’s weight?
Being overweight or obese as a child can lead to serious problems, like:
- Heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Sleep problems
- Low self-esteem
- Getting bullied
Being overweight as a child increases the risk of being overweight or obese as an adolescent and young adult. In other words, many kids don’t “grow out of” being overweight.
Today, about 2 in 3 adults – and about 1 in 3 children – are overweight or obese.
How do I know if my child is at a healthy weight?
Finding out your child’s body mass index (BMI) is the best way to learn if he or she is at a healthy weight.
Children grow at different rates, so it’s not always easy to tell if your child is at a healthy weight. Healthy weight is also defined differently for children and teens than it is for adults.
Ask your child’s doctor or nurse whether your child is at a healthy weight.
Make sure your child gets at least 60 minutes (1 hour) of physical activity every day.
It doesn’t have to be 60 minutes all at once – it can be shorter activities that add up to 1 hour a day. Fun and simple activities, like playing tag, are great ways for kids to get moving.
Be sure your child is doing different types of activity, including:
- Aerobic activities, like running, skipping, or dancing
- Muscle-strengthening activities, like climbing playground equipment or trees
- Bone-strengthening activities, like jumping rope or playing basketball
Limit screen time.
Keep inactive (sitting down) screen time to 2 hours or less a day for kids age 2 and older. Screen time is time spent using computers or smart phones, watching TV, or playing video games.
- Set clear rules about when and for how long your child can use the computer or smart phone, watch TV, and play video games.
- Keep the TV out of your child’s room.
You can be a role model for your child by eating healthy. Plus, a healthy diet can help protect you from heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer.
Shop, cook, and plan for healthy meals.
Buy and serve more vegetables, fruits, and whole grain foods.