Nearly one in five school children and young people aged six to 19 in the U.S. is obese. Of the factors that contribute to this condition, many - including eating and physical behaviors - can be changed. Even when genetic factors are at play, children can reduce or successfully battle overweight and obesity by making the right lifestyle choices under the guiding hands of their parents. If obesity is a factor that is affecting the health and happiness of your child, these are just three ways to promote a healthy physique that will also foster a happy frame of mind.
Make Sleep a Bigger Priority for Kids
One of the most important lifestyle changes for weight loss is embracing good sleep. A series of studies has shown that lack of sleep is linked to obesity, as are irregular sleep patterns. Good sleep involves both good sleep quantity and quality. Good sleep quality involves three main things: falling asleep within half an hour of getting into bed, waking up no more than once at night, and being awake for no longer than 20 minutes after first falling asleep. To achieve quality sleep, kids need to avoid habits that can keep them awake at night, such as drinking caffeinated drinks and using smartphones, tablets, and computers in the evening. Another habit to be avoided is that of sleeping with a night light. A June 2019 study published in the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences has found that sleeping with a TV or light in the bedroom may be a risk factor for weight gain and obesity.
Encourage More Outdoor Play
A 2015 study has found that when kids embrace more outdoor playtime, they can enjoy a 42% reduction in obesity. The magic number of minutes to aim for is 60 - this is when energetic play in nature can really make a difference. Children who play outdoors, scientists say, are more likely to indulge in the kind of physical activity that improves fitness. Currently, children lay outdoors for a little over half an hour a day - which isn’t enough to make a major difference to obesity.
Be Wary of the Household Cleaning Products You are Using
A 2018 study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal has found that popular household cleaners could be making children overweight by altering their gut microbiota. The link is particularly strong in households were multi-surface cleaners are used. The same effect was not observed in homes that use eco-friendly cleaners and detergents. To make this change, try to rely on a powerful steam vacuum cleaner and natural cleaning products made with ingredients like bacteria-fighting essential oils.
Narrow Down Your Choices of Snacks for Kids
A July 2019 study undertaken at the Murdoch Children's Research Institute has found that offering kids a wide variety (and large quantities) of snack foods encourages them to eat more than they need to. Researchers said that despite the push by nutritionists and public health officials, replacing large dishes with smaller ones had little effect on a child’s food consumption. Far more important was the quantity and type of snacks offered. "Children and adults should only consume energy-dense snacks occasionally -- they do not need to be part of daily energy intake," they warned.
In order to keep kids healthy and fit, ensuring they consume a healthy Mediterranean-style diet and take part in regular exercise is important. However, there are other, less obvious ways to curb obesity. These include giving greater priority to sleep, lowering the level of toxic cleaning products in the home, and reducing both the quantity and variety of snacks.