The wellness habits and attitudes formed in childhood play a large role in a child’s future health. Today kicks off Every Kid Healthy Week, a national campaign aimed to combat childhood obesity. Why is obesity an important issue to the Prevent Cancer Foundation? We know that up to one-third of all new cancer diagnoses in the United States are related to obesity, physical inactivity and/or poor dietary habits. With over one-third of all American children and adolescents classified as obese, what can parents and caregivers do? By educating your family, teaching children healthy habits and by following them yourself, you can reduce your family’s risk for cancer.
Dr. Ann Kulze, a well-respected physician and nutrition expert, and a member of the Prevent Cancer Foundation’s Medical Advisory Board, shared some great tips for keeping your family healthy.
- Sit down for healthy family meals as often as possible.
- Children respond more to actions than words, they’ll follow suit if you make healthy food choices.
- Limit screen time, especially TV to 2 hours or less daily.
- Ensure that your child accumulates at least 1 hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily.
- Make sure your child eats breakfast daily.
- Restrict your child’s intake of sweet beverages (soda, fruit drinks, sports drinks, and fruit juice).
- Stock your home full of healthy snack options like cut fresh veggies, nuts, seeds, low-fat cheese and yogurt, hard boiled eggs and whole fruit smoothies.
- Limit availability of fast food, junk food and sweets.
Here are Dr. Kulze’s ideas for encouraging kids to eat vegetables:
- Fool them! Shred veggies like carrots, zucchini, cabbage or broccoli and add them to meatloaf, spaghetti sauce, lasagna or baked goods.
- Make “mock-mashed” potatoes from cooked cauliflower.
- Prior to dinner, serve an appetizer of colorful veggies with a healthy dip. Children are typically hungry prior to dinner and are more apt to consume veggies in this context. Additionally, color and variety stimulate eating behaviors which further leverage this useful nutritional strategy.
- Involve your child in the selection and preparation of vegetable dishes. Studies show that children are more apt to eat and enjoy food they have experienced with all of their senses.
- Exploit their inherent sweet tooth. Offer the sweeter varieties of veggies – baby peas, carrots, sweet potatoes, red/yellow bell pepper strips, cherry tomatoes and sugar snap peas.
Ensuring kids eat healthy now, will help reduce their risk for several diseases later on. For more information about the impact of a healthy lifestyle of cancer prevention, visit preventcancer.org.