Employee & Community Health

Your Care Team can help kids reach, maintain healthy weight

8/24/2015

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Reaching and maintaining a life-long healthy weight for everyone in your family is a great goal - and it's doable! Your Care Team can provide you with down-to-earth information and tips that even busy families can work into their schedules. 

Why be concerned about your kid's weight?

The news has been full of stories about the obesity "epidemic" in the U.S. - particularly among kids and teens. When a child is well above the normal weight for his or her age and height, they're considered obese. 

Those extra pounds often start kids on the path to health problems such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. Being overweight can also affect their self-esteem and lead to depression. 

A good place to start is with a visit to your health care provider for a well-child checkup. During this visit, the doctor measures your child's height and weight and calculates his or her Body Mass Index (BMI). An increase in your child's BMI or in his or her percentile rank over one year is a possible sign that your child is at risk of becoming overweight - or already may be overweight. Your Care Team can help you set goals and provide you with resources. 

What you can do

One of the best ways you can help your kids (and you!) reach and maintain a healthy weight is to approach this goal as a family. Set aside some time to discuss your healthy eating goal as a family. Here are some questions to consider: 

  • Why are healthy choices important? 
  • What can we choose for healthy food? 
  • How can we get more physical activity and more around more? 
  • How do we feel when we make healthy choices? 
  • What's one thing we can do together to make a step towards healthier living? 
  • When are we going to start? How will we remember to make healthy choices? 

Getting started 

Getting started on your goal can be as easy as 5-2-1-0. Here's what that means: 

5: Eat at least 5 services of fruit and vegetables every day. 

2: Limit your screen time to no more than 2 hours a day. 

1: Get at least one hour of activity every day. 

0: Try to drink zero sugary drinks, like pop, juice, sports drinks and specialty coffees. 

Also, a big factor in reaching a healthy weight isn't just what you eat, but how much. Take toaster tarts. There are two tarts wrapped together in one package, but a service is only one tart. That's why it's smart to read the nutrition label on all food packages. An easy way to think about portion control is to divide your plate:

  • 1/2 for fruits and vegetables
  • 1/4 for carbohydrates like rice, pasta and potatoes
  • 1/4 for proteins like meat, beans and eggs

These simple tips will help too: 

Screen time is not eating time. When it's time to eat, even just a quick snack of fruit, try not to do it when you're on the computer, watching TV or playing video games. It's easy to eat more when you're doing other things at the same time. 

Slow down when you eat. The best way to eat is to be sitting down at a table or at the kitchen counter. Sitting can slow you down and help you think about what you're eating. 

Make a plan to be more active. Try to sit for only 30 minutes at a time. Then, get up and move. You could go for a walk, turn on music and dance, pick up a room in the house or play an active game with your family. Plan active outings with your family for weekends and after dinner. 

Here are some more terrific healthy-eating resources for families of all sizes and ages: 

Once your family's new healthy-eating project is underway, it's a good idea to do a follow-up checkup with your Care Team.