Combat Childhood Obesity: Child Health Day
October 1st is the 84th annual celebration of Child Health Day, a national health day that was started back in 1928 by President Coolidge, who proclaimed the following: ,
“WHEREAS the protection and development of the health of the children of today are fundamental necessities to the future progress and welfare of the Nation; AND WHEREAS, the conservation and promotion of child health places upon us a grave responsibility; AND WHEREAS, it is appropriate that a day should be set apart each year for the direction of our thoughts towards the health and well-being of our children.”
Child Health Day is more important than ever as childhood obesity now affects 17% of all kids and the current generation’s life expectancy is shorter than their parents. As a mom and a registered dietitian, I know how important the health of my children is, and I strive to model healthy behaviors when it comes to what I eat and the physical activity I partake in every day.
Parents often ask me how they can help prevent obesity in their children, especially when kids are inundated with tempting food everywhere they look. I tell parents they can do the following:
- Eat family meals. Ideally everyone would have home cooked meals and sit around the table all together every day of the week. That just doesn’t happen these days. But you can still aim for as many family meals – it can be breakfast, lunch, or dinner – as your family’s schedule allows. And if you can’t cook, enjoying prepared foods together is absolutely fine – just keep the balanced plate in mind.
- Get active. Play a game of tag or soccer with kids. Or go for a bike ride or a hike on the weekend. If children see you’re active, they’ll be more inclined to get active themselves.
- Embrace the philosophy “everything in moderation.” I don’t believe in the idea of good and bad foods. All food has a place in the diet, including sweetened foods, which many people feel should be eliminated from the diet. Whether these foods are made with sugar, high fructose corn syrup, honey, agave, or any of the other numerous sweeteners, there’s no harm in enjoying them in moderation.
- Make food fun! Cook with your kids, go apple picking, explore new ethnic cuisines. Food is a source of nourishment, but it’s also meant to be savored and enjoyed!
Jessica Fishman Levinson, MS, RD, CDN is a registered dietitian, member of the CRA RD Panel, and founder of Nutritioulicious™, a private practice in Manhattan. She has extensive experience as a nutrition writer, editor, and speaker, and has been featured as a nutrition expert on NBC, Fox 5, and NY1, and in national magazines, including Glamour, Fitness, and Woman’s Day. Jessica is a member of the American Dietetic Association and Greater NY Dietetic Association, and she consults for several food and beverage companies.
Members of the RD Panel are paid consultants to the Corn Refiners Association (CRA), but their statements and opinions are their own. RD Panel members provide general dietary information, but you should consult your own physician or dietitian for advice concerning your particular circumstance