WATONGA, Okla. – Nearly one in three children in the United States are overweight or obese, which can lead to serious health conditions, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.
As part of National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, Chelsey Garrison, a physician assistant at Mercy Clinic in Watonga, offers the following tips on how to stop this trend and help children live an active and healthy life.
· Think 5-2-1-0 — That’s eating 5 or more fruits and vegetables; limiting screen time (television, computer and video games) to 2 hours a day or less; getting 1 hour or more of physical activity; and drinking 0 sugar-sweetened beverages daily.
· Eat healthy — When making food choices, fill half the plate with fruits and vegetables; choose whole grains; opt for low-fat or fat-free dairy products; drink water and low-fat milk instead of sugary drinks, like soda and juice; eat lean protein sources; choose low-sodium foods; and examine the portion sizes on food items to ensure you and your child are not overeating.
· Stay active — To meet the one hour of recommended physical activity daily, there are a number of activities adults can do with their children, such as taking a walk, going on a bike ride and playing basketball, soccer or another sport.
· Get plenty of sleep — More than two-thirds of children experience one or more sleep problems, according to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF). NSF recommends 10 to 13 hours of sleep for children ages 3 to 5; nine to 11 hours for ages 6 to 13; eight to 10 hours for ages 14 to 17; and seven to nine hours for ages 18 to 25.
Over the last few decades, childhood obesity rates have tripled. Garrison said that trend needs to change.
“We need to make major lifestyle changes, which includes serving our children fewer processed foods and opting for fresh, healthy choices,” she said. “We also need to focus less on computers, televisions and video games, and more on adding physical activities into our day. It takes time to make significant lifestyle changes, but there is no time like the present to get started.”
Speak with your child’s physician or provider to learn other ways to stay healthy now and in the future. To find a Mercy physician or provider, visit /search/doctor.