With Illinois having the 4th highest rate of childhood obesity and the 10th highest overweight and obesity rate in children overall, raises concerns that need to be addressed. Obese children are at risk for cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure.
Obesity in children is a growing concern among parents, schools and caregivers. The government wants to take action to put child obesity under control. A recent commentary in a national medical journal (JAMA) stated that our government should intervene on overly obese children. Advocates feel that parents should lose custody of their children if they cannot control their children’s weight. They feel that putting those children into the foster care system would be better than the possibility of a child having obesity surgery. Not only has the loss of child custody been brought up but several states have already included BMI scores on the children’s report cards. However, children who’s parents work spend a majority of their time in school, daycare settings or with another person or relative.
In the fight against obesity in children, Illinois schools are taking action in educating children and their parents starting at preschool level. This includes programming on physical activity, television viewing, food available in the home, portion sizes, obesity prevention strategies, and factors that can create barriers to healthy eating and physical activity. A local man, Rick Delashmit of the Farmer’s Market in Belleville, Il., sponsored by Pepsi-Cola, is on a mission to bring his mobile fruit and vegetable field called “Taste Buds” into nearby classrooms. Check out his video on this page.
Success in the prevention of obese children starts early. Child Care providers who provide care for infants through preschool can take action by following a few simple steps.
- Provide plenty of exercise. It doesn’t have to be strenuous physical exercise however kids have much more energy than adults do if they are not consistently made to do activities in which they have to sit. Games that require them to be moving around are good. Taking them out for walks or to a nearby park will provide them some needed exercise. Make it a routine. If it rains, provide some indoor activities such as musical chairs or music movement.
- Limit the time in front of the TV. Kids spend way too much time at home in front of the TV watching their favorite cartoons or at the computer playing games. When they are at daycare or someone else is providing care they need to do other activities. Some of those activities should be physical play, anything that will get them up and moving around.
- Stay away from the sugary cereals. Kids like the fancy boxes with an exciting offer for something on the box but if it is not one of your choices then there won’t be anything to entice them to eat the cereal that is full of the unwanted sugar. Kids will adapt to what you have to offer them.
- Limit the sugary drinks. Children don’t need high sugar in drinks. Low Fat milk, water and a limited amount of 100% juice are all that they need during the time they are being cared for. Illinois is proposing a penny per ounce tax on soda and sugary drinks which makes this a no brainer.
- Make healthy lunch choices. Make it a point to serve more healthy lunches. Stay away from the chips and limit the processed foods.
- Limit the sugar in the snacks. Instead of serving snack items such as cookies, provide more healthy choices such as raw vegetables. Make them look appetizing and serve them with low fat ranch dressing to give them some extra flavor. Some children will want to dip their vegetables and some will not. Peanut butter on wheat would be another choice. Add some fruit to give it an extra flair. Other choices are pretzels, crackers, cheese and yogurt. Make some fruit and cheese kabobs.
Make snack time and lunchtime a fun time. Let the kids help prepare the meals and snacks. When the children are involved they are more likely to eat the healthy meals and snacks that are being served to them.
Help fight childhood obesity and get them involved in some gross motor activities and healthy eating at an early age. Learn more about what you can do to help fight obesity in children by joining Michelle Obama’s kick off campaign to fight obesity. Let’s Move has some helpful tips on what you can do to help.