Guest Blogger: Lenna Liu, MD, MPH, Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic and Seattle Children’s Hospital
With obesity as a leading risk factor for heart disease and stroke, this epidemic is a serious public health issue that must be addressed. The American Heart Association works with partners across the country to help all Americans improve their health by advocating for healthier environments in schools (e.g. improved nutrition and physical education) and communities (e.g. restaurant menu labeling, active transportation options). While we work together to create healthier environments, we can all take steps to stay active and healthy during the summer months ahead.
With kids out of school, what can parents do for our kids AND for ourselves? Take a cue from First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move campaign and Seattle Children's Hospital and think 7-5-2-1-0.
Eat breakfast 7 days a week.
Eating breakfast daily helps get us started on the right foot each day. Skipping meals can often lead to overeating from feeling “over-hungry.” So keep regular, balanced meals throughout the day.
Have 5 helpings of fruit & vegetables each day.
Summer is a great time for fresh fruits and vegetables. Fill up half your plate with these and enjoy. If your child is not a vegetable eater, keep offering them a taste to try. It often takes children 10-12 times to learn to enjoy or appreciate a food.
Limit screen time to less than 2 hours per day.
TV’s, cellphones, computers, video games…we are surrounded by handheld technology and screens all day long. Here are a few reasonable tips to minimize non-essential (non-work/school-related) screen time: Keep TV's and computers out of the bedroom. Eliminate background TV during the day. Don’t eat in front of the TV or other screens. Set clear time limits for kids.
Be physically active at least 1 hour per day.
Get outside and enjoy the summer weather. Also incorporate activity throughout the day—it doesn’t need to be all in one continuous hour. Park further away, take the stairs, do things as a family (take a walk after dinner, etc.). Find something your child enjoys! If they like it, it will be play and they will want to do it more.
Cut down sugary drinks to 0.
Drink more water in these warmer summer months. Drinking less sugary beverages is one of the easiest ways to reduce excess calories. Encourage your children to drink water (or lowfat milk) instead.
7-5-2-1-0. A combination to better health for your child and your whole family.