September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

September is national Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

One in 5 children in the United States have obesity. Childhood obesity puts kids at risk for health problems that were once seen only in adults, like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. The good news? Childhood obesity can be prevented.

Help your child stay at a healthy weight

The Basics: Overview

Help your child – and your whole family – eat healthy and stay physically active. The healthy habits your child learns now can last a lifetime.

What can I do to help my child stay at a healthy weight?
Help your child stay at a healthy weight by balancing what your child eats with physical activity. Two of the best ways to help your child stay at a healthy weight are to: Help your child and family eat healthier foods and be more physically active as a family

You are a role model.
Parents are often the most important role models for children. When you choose to eat right and be physically active, your child will be more likely to make those choices, too.

Plus, being active and preparing healthy meals together are great ways to spend quality time with your family.

Share these websites with your kids.
These kid-friendly websites can help children learn about healthy habits.

Click here for the link BAM! Body and Mind

Click here for the link MyPlate Kids’ Place


Why do I need to worry about my child’s weight?
Being overweight or having obesity can lead to serious problems, like:

  • Asthma
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Sleep problems
  • Low self-esteem
  • Getting bullied
  • Heart disease

Click here to Learn more about health problems and childhood obesity.

Being overweight as a child increases the risk of being overweight or having obesity as an adolescent and young adult. In other words, many kids don’t “grow out of” being overweight.

Today, about 7 in 10 adults – and about 1 in 3 children – are overweight or have obesity.

How do I know if my child is at a healthy weight?
Finding out your child’s body mass index (BMI) is one way to learn if he or she is at a healthy weight.

Children grow at different rates, so it’s not always easy to tell if your child is at a healthy weight. Healthy weight is also defined differently for children and teens than it is for adults.

Ask your child’s doctor or nurse whether your child is at a healthy weight. You can also use this BMI calculator for children and teens if you know your child’s height and weight.

What if my child is overweight or has obesity?
Successful weight management programs for kids include counseling and education about eating a healthy diet and being physically active. Parents have an important role to play in these programs, too. Talk to your child’s doctor or nurse for more information.

Take Action!  Help your child make healthy choices and learn healthy habits.

Make sure your child gets at least 60 minutes (1 hour) of physical activity every day.
Fun and simple activities, like playing tag, are great ways for kids to get moving. And it doesn’t have to be 60 minutes all at once – it can be shorter activities that add up to 1 hour a day.

Be sure your child is doing different types of activity, including:

  • Aerobic activities, like running, skipping, or dancing
  • Muscle-strengthening activities, like climbing playground equipment or trees
  • Bone-strengthening activities, like jumping rope or playing basketball

Click here to Find out more about physical activity for kids.

Make getting active a family project.

  • Let children choose family activities.
  • Try walking the dog or biking to the library together.
  • Post a family activity calendar on your refrigerator.
  • Click here to Find a park to explore near your home.

Click here to Get more ideas on how to increase your family’s daily activity.


Limit screen time.
Keep screen time to 2 hours or less a day for kids age 2 and older. Screen time is time spent using computers or smart phones, watching TV, or playing video games.

 Eat healthy
You can be a role model for your child by eating healthy. Plus, a healthy diet can help protect you from heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer.

Shop, cook, and plan for healthy meals.
Buy and serve more vegetables, fruits, and whole grain foods. Here are some tips and ideas:

Sit at the table and eat together as a family.
Plan healthy, affordable meals and enjoy them as a family. When families eat together, children eat more vegetables and fruits and fewer foods with added sugars. Let children help pick out healthy foods, prepare meals, and set the table.

Start the day with a good breakfast.
Skipping breakfast can make kids hungry and tired, and it may lead them to snack on foods high in added sugars later in the day. Give your kids whole-grain cereal with fat-free or low-fat milk and fruit instead of sugary cereal.

Try these healthy snack ideas.

  • Make “ants on a log” (celery with peanut butter and raisins).
  • Add fruit (fresh, frozen, dried, or canned) to fat-free or low-fat yogurt. Look for canned, dried, and frozen fruit with no added sugars.
  • Blend fruit and yogurt with some 100% fruit juice to make a tasty smoothie.
  • Top whole-grain crackers with low-fat cheese.
  • Dip vegetable “matchsticks” (thin sticks made from fresh carrots, zucchini, or bell peppers) in hummus (a dip made from chickpeas).
  • Top whole-wheat bread, rice cakes, or apple slices with peanut butter.
  • Melt low-fat cheese in a whole-wheat tortilla to make quesadillas. Try adding black beans for an extra boost of nutrition!
  • Mix air-popped popcorn with dried fruit and unsalted nuts for homemade trail mix. Serve with a glass of fat-free or low-fat milk.
  • Dip tortilla chips in salsa. Look for chips with less sodium.
  • Make a mini pizza. Top half of a whole-wheat English with spaghetti sauce, chopped vegetables, and low-fat shredded cheese and heat it up in the microwave or oven.
  • Keep fresh fruit in a place that’s easy to reach in the refrigerator or on the kitchen table. This will make it easier for kids to grab a healthy choice.

Make sure your child gets enough sleep.
If kids don’t get enough sleep, they are at higher risk of being overweight or having obesity.

  • Teens need 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night.
  • School-aged children need 9 to 12 hours of sleep each night.
  • Preschoolers need to sleep between 10 and 13 hours each day (including naps).
  • Toddlers need to sleep between 11 and 14 hours a day (including naps).
  • Babies need between 12 and 16 hours of sleep each day (including naps).

Set a bedtime schedule and remind your child when it’s time to get ready for bed. Consider keeping electronic devices – like TVs, computers, and smart phones – out of the bedroom. Click here to Get more tips on healthy sleep habits.