How Much Should A 2 1/2 Year Old Boy Weigh How to Help Prevent Childhood Obesity

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How to Help Prevent Childhood Obesity

There is a growing trend in America that each year more children are weighing in on the scale as obese. According to the National Center of Health Statistics 17%-19% more children were obese then in previous years.1 More than double the number of children are obese than were in 1980.2

What is causing this increase in overweight children? How can we help our children not to be part of these numbers? There are a few simple things you can do from a small age to make sure your children are at a healthy weight for their age. I will discuss 4 of them in this article.

Be aware that never in this article will I suggest putting a young child on a diet. A young child’s metabolism is fragile and dieting can permanently damage it. A young child should never diet unless under constant medical supervision.

1) Healthy Snacks — One of the best things you do for your children is to provide them with healthy snacks. I don’t mean health food bars; I mean fresh fruit and vegetables. I know the vegetables are a stretch for some kids, but if your child is young around 1-3 years old, this is the perfect time to start offering raw vegetables as a snack or at dinner. Young children are just developing their eating preferences and are willing to try new foods, especially if they see their caregiver also eating the same food. If your child is older, it isn’t too late. It has been proven that it only takes giving your child a food approximately 20 times before there taste buds find the food normal and common. So be persistent in giving them the foods and sooner or latter they will stop saying they don’t like it and it will be easily eaten.

So now we have discussed how to get your child to eat raw vegetables. Now, let’s discuss why we want your children to eat the raw vegetables. The natural antioxidants in the raw fruits and vegetables may help to fight fat.3

It has been found that the pigment that makes fruits and vegetables purple, dark blue and dark red (Anthocyanins) also helps to prevent obesity.4 Berries such as blueberries and raspberries are especially high in these Anthocyanins along with Purple or Dark Red Grapes skins. When extract from these berries, such as blueberry extract, were used, they were the most effective in helping to prevent obesity. If you decide to buy an extract, make sure it contains the Anthocyanin in the ingredient list.

Along with the wonderful benefit of the purple pigmented fruit and vegetables there are benefits to eating all raw fruits and vegetables. Fruits and Vegetables are low calorie foods that provide your body with needed nutrition and they have high fiber that helps your child feel full. Other wonderful fruit snacks are sliced apples, pears, bananas, orange slices, watermelon wedges, cantaloupe balls, etc. There are a variety of fruits and vegetables filled with natural vitamins that your children’s bodies needs daily. These snacks will help them grow strong, be healthy and maintain a good body weight.

If you feel like you just can not get your child to eat any fresh fruit or vegetables there is a new study out that show children were twice as likely to eat fruits and vegetables if they are home grown.5 There is something about growing the food in the back yard that makes it more desirable to eat to your child. So if needed break out the hoe and some seed packets and grow some fruit and vegetables for a season or two, until your child learns to eat them.

2) Limit the amount of juice your child drinks. Juice may be fortified with some vitamins but it contains very little natural vitamins. Although I find 100% natural juice a better choice then Kool-Aid or soda pop, it is still a drink high in sugar. Most nutritionists suggest only having 1 – 2 cups of juice a day and having all other thirst quenching drinks of the day to be water. In fact, it is suggested that our bodies need approximately 8 cups of water a day or 64 oz of water (approximately 2 liters). If we are filling this need with other means besides water then we are putting in a lot of unneeded calories. Let’s think about it. Water has 0 calories per cup. One cup of juice has 110 calories with some vitamins. 1 cup of soda also has approximately 110 calories with no vitamins. If a child is drinking 8 cups of soda or other sugary drinks each day they have consumed 880 calories that they didn’t need, that could be an extra pound every week of sugar pouring in the child.

3) Encourage your child to go outside and play. Some children take no encouragement at all and live outside. But some kids prefer to be inside watching TV or playing games or on the computer. I have one of those kids. I allow some time at these activities and then I say, “Enough”, it is time to be outside. My child does not want to go. She kicks and throws fits. But I help her put her shoes on and get ready to go outside I gently push her out the door and direct her to which friends house she can go to request them to come play with her, I watch her walk to the neighboring house mumbling and upset that mom could be so mean. However, when her friend comes out they play for the next 2 hours. They have so much fun. They run around, they ride bikes, and when it is time for dinner I get all sorts of grumbles about how can I be so mean to make her come back inside.

For younger children, who can not play independently outside, send them out to the back yard. This is a safe spot where they will still get some run around time. Have some toys and play equipment that encourages healthy exercise for there age. We have a trampoline with a safety net. My younger children spend hours in the back yard jumping on the trampoline. They get their exercise.

3) Encourage your child to go outside and play. Some children take no encouragement at all and live outside. But some kids prefer to be inside watching TV or playing games or on the computer. I have one of those kids. I allow some time at these activities and then I say, “Enough”, it is time to be outside. My child does not want to go. She kicks and throws fits. But I help her put her shoes on and get ready to go outside I gently push her out the door and direct her to which friends house she can go to request them to come play with her, I watch her walk to the neighboring house mumbling and upset that mom could be so mean. However, when her friend comes out they play for the next 2 hours. They have so much fun. They run around, they ride bikes, and when it is time for dinner I get all sorts of grumbles about how can I be so mean to make her come back inside.

For younger children, who can not play independently outside, send them out to the back yard. This is a safe spot where they will still get some run around time. Have some toys and play equipment that encourages healthy exercise for there age. We have a trampoline with a safety net. My younger children spend hours in the back yard jumping on the trampoline. They get their exercise.

4) Make sure your child gets enough sleep. A new study shows that children who slept less then 10 hours at night were at a much higher risk of being over weight then those who got at least 12 hours of sleep at night. Lack of sleep lowers the level of a hormone your body produces called Leptin. Leptin stimulates metabolism and decreases hunger, too little sleep deprives your body of this hormone. In addition, when you get to little sleep your body will boost the concentration of ghrelin, a hormone that increases hunger.6 Enough sleep is necessary to make sure your child’s body is functioning correctly to help them maintain a healthy body weight.

The four main keys to helping your child maintain a healthy body weight are: make sure they eat healthy snacks. Limit the amount of sugary drinks they have and provide them with lots of water. Make sure they are able to get some outside time, whether it is through play or sports. Last make sure your child gets enough sleep for his or her age. Growing children need more than the 8 hours of the standard adult. These things should help you in providing a good healthy start for your child.

1. Prevalence of Overweight Among Children and Adolescents: United States, 2003-2004

2. Preventing Childhood Obesity: Tips for Parents

3. American Chemical Society. “New Insights Into How Natural Antioxidants Fight Fat.” ScienceDaily 8 November 2007. 24 March 2008

4. American Chemical Society. “Natural Purple Pigments In Fruits, Vegetables And Berries, Such As Blueberries, May Help Prevent Obesity.” ScienceDaily 14 February 2008. 19 March 2008

5. Saint Louis University. “Children Eat More Fruits And Vegetables If They Are Homegrown.” ScienceDaily 19 April 2007. 24 March 2008

6. Université Laval. “Children Who Sleep Less Are Three Times More Likely To Be Overweight.” ScienceDaily 29 March 2006. 25 March 2008

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