Healthy kids are successful kids. According to the CDC, “Health-related factors such as hunger, physical and emotional abuse, and chronic illness can lead to poor school performance.” Physical inactivity and poor nutrition is resulting in childhood obesity at an alarming rate – it has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years. Obesity can result in other chronic ailments and contributes to depression. It may also prevent children from trying new activities for fear of being judged or made fun of by their peers. It is a dangerous epidemic that we need to stop.
It’s easy to point fingers and blame fast-food, lack of PhyEd programming in schools, and video games as the culprits, but the truth is many times the problem lies closer to home. Many parents simply don’t take the time to plan and cook nutritious meals or take the kids out for a long walk or a bike ride after dinner. They aren’t instilling healthy habits into their children. Yes, I know we are all busy trying to make ends meet. I’m a single mother – I get it. But if you make time to cook (most) meals at home and ensure your child engages in daily activities like biking or walking, playing outside or at indoor parks with friends, or swimming at the local pool, those things start to add up to a healthier, and more engaged, life. And your relationship with your child might just become closer and stronger to boot.
My son isn’t an organized-sports fanatic and frankly either am I, but he has found a niche with TaeKwonDo and swimming and he participates in those activities year-round. I limit video game time and the only television he watches is the occasional movie, usually with me, on the weekends. Is it hard to maintain and enforce these standards? Sometimes. But it would be harder to watch my son grow up living an unhealthy lifestyle.
We cannot control what our children do once they leave the nest, but for the short time that I do have a say over how my son spends his time and what he puts in his body, I’m going to make sure he has an opportunity to be healthy and active and hopefully those habits will stay with him into adulthood. Making dinner and making memories with your kid is way more fun than making excuses, too!
Here are a couple great resources for how to involve your kids in cooking at home, engaging in healthy activity together with your kids, and facts on how to prevent childhood obesity. For more information, just Google “healthy kids” and peruse the millions of hits you will get. Or join the movement!