Childhood obesity is a growing public health epidemic with serious consequences. According to Dr. David Hall, a pediatrician with Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group, childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the last 30 years. In 2012, more than one-third of children and adolescents were overweight and obese.
So, what should you do if you’re worried about your child? Talk to his or her pediatrician, who can assess height, weight and body mass, and discuss diet and activity patterns. Dr. Hall also encourages parents to model healthy living by only stocking their homes with healthy foods, encouraging family “activity days,” and scheduling “screen-free” days for everyone.
To get a head start on a healthier lifestyle for your child and your family, just remember these four little numbers: 5-2-1-0.
- 5 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables a day — a good tip to follow is to fill half your plate with colorful fruits and vegetables, and keep pre-cut fruits and veggies available for snacks.
- 2 hours or less of screen time per day — that’s TV, phones, tablets, video games and non-school computer use. Learn how to set appropriate limits on screen time.
- 1 hour or more of physical activity every day — walking, running, bicycling, or organized sports are great ways to get to the 60-minute mark.
- 0 sugary drinks — this includes soda, sports drinks and juice. Water is sugar-free, fat-free and available nearly everywhere. Learn the six best times to drink water during the day.
5-2-1-0 Every Day! is a national anti-childhood obesity initiative sponsored by the Sharp Rees-Stealy Center for Health Management and the San Diego County Childhood Obesity Initiative.
Being overweight is linked to risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes. Helping your children develop healthy patterns early in life can produce meaningful long-term results.