Childhood Obesity & Nutrition
Preventing childhood obesity starts with good nutrition and regular exercise. These principles can be used to get an overweight or obese child back on track, but ideally, they are used from the beginning of a child's life to prevent those problems.
While exercise comes in a little later in life, you can start a good nutrition program for weight management when your child is an infant. This is a great way to instill proper eating habits for preventing childhood obesity. Some ways to ensure that your child gets the optimum nutrition for proper growth and development without gaining excess weight include:
- Avoiding overfeeding infants and toddlers. They usually eat when they are hungry.
- Watching calorie intake of all children. Proper calorie intakes vary with the age, gender, and activity level of each child. Check with your pediatrician for guidelines on appropriate calorie intake.
- Avoiding introducing 100% juice until a child is at least 6 months old. Limit juice to no more than 6 ounces a day. Many juices are naturally high in sugar.
- Introducing healthy foods to young children and continuing to offer them even if they are refused. Don't force a child to eat anything.
- Limiting fat intake to 30% to 35% of calories for children ages 2 to 3 and 25% to 35% of calories for children 4 and older.
- Providing fats from fish, nuts, and vegetable oils.
- Serving whole grain breads and cereals instead of refined grain breads and cereals.
- Offering a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables to children. Complex carbohydrates and natural sugars are found in fruits and vegetables, which are generally low in calorie.
- Serving fat-free or 2% milk and dairy products.
- Choosing fish or low-fat cuts of meat rather than fatty meats.
- Avoiding processed foods and fast foods.
- Serving balanced, nutritious meals three times a day and limiting snacks. Snacks should be healthy, including foods like fresh fruits and vegetables.
In addition to good nutrition, childhood obesity can be prevented with exercise as well. Combining the two is an even better plan for prevention.