It’s no secret that too many kids today are overweight. Childhood obesity is a large and complex topic, and it’s important that parents not ignore childhood obesity as “baby fat.” An overweight child needs adult help and support.
One interesting Kaiser Family Foundation report recently reviewed more than 40 studies on the role of media in the nation’s dramatic increase in the rates of childhood obesity. The report concluded that the majority of scientific research indicates that children who spend the most amount of time with media are more likely to be overweight.
However, contrary to common assumptions, most of the research reviewed for this report didn’t find that children’s media use displaces physical activities. It seems that children’s exposure to billions of dollars worth of food ads and marketing in the media may be a key mechanism whereby media promotes childhood obesity. In other words, they see an ad for kids having a great time enjoying fast food, and they want it too.
The report cites studies that show that the typical child sees approximately 40,000 ads a year on TV, and the majority of ads targeted to kids are for candy, cereal, soda and fast food.
Wondering how to avoid childhood obesity in your family? Here are 13 suggestions.
- Strive for a BMI of less than 25 before becoming pregnant
- Avoid excessive weight gain during pregnancy
- Try to breastfeed for twelve months
- Introduce children to SuperFoods as soon as they begin on solid foods
- Make at least 30 minutes of fun physical activity a daily priority
- Eliminate foods containing high fructose corn syrup and/or partially hydrogenated oils
- Make breakfast mandatory
- Whenever possible, send your child to school with a homemade lunch and/or snack (e.g. carrots, apples, celery with peanut butter, raisins and dates, wholegrain muffins/cookies)
- Have a house rule of no more than one hour daily of TV or computer play time
- Help your child develop good sleep habits and remember that most teens need 8 ½ to 9 hours of sleep each night
- Make family dinners a priority
- Make fast food meals an occasional treat, not a habit
- Encourage three servings daily of low-fat/non-fat dairy