September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month!

By: Anne Marie Kuchera, MS, MA, LPC, RD at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC

If you watch the news, read the newspaper, or surf the Web, then you likely are aware of our nationwide childhood obesity crisis.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 35 percent of young people in the United States are now considered overweight or obese.  This causes tremendous concern for us as a nation in terms of child and adolescent health, health care dollars, educational success, and future productivity. You may have heard that our current generation of children may die before their parents, and this is directly related to the health impacts of childhood obesity. To learn more about this troubling epidemic, please see the following video clip from the Obesity Society:

Below are some tips for getting your child and family started with achieving and maintaining a healthier lifestyle:

  • Create a supportive home environment.
    • Make plenty of healthy foods, like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products, available to eat, and easy to see and reach.
    • Remove foods from the home that are high in fat and sugar or are tempting to eat in excessive amounts (for example, cookies, chips, candy).
    • Make physical activity part of your family’s daily routine.
    • Praise your child for making healthy choices!
  • Set limits and healthy boundaries.
    • Limit screen time (television, computer, video games, smart phones) in the home to no more than two hours per day.
    • Plan for three meals and one or two snacks per day. Discourage frequent snacking.
    • Limit eating to the kitchen and/or dining area.
    • Turn the television OFF during meals.
  • Aim for 5 – 2 – 1 – 0.

5 Eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day.

2 Limit screen time to 2 hours or less per day.

1 Get at least 1 hour of physical activity per day.

0 Eliminate sweet drinks.

If you are concerned about your child and his or her weight, help is available to you right here in the Greater Pittsburgh area. The Weight Management and Wellness Center at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC offers a multidisciplinary approach to lifestyle change that can help your child (and family) make changes to achieve a healthier weight. In addition, programs are available in many Children’s Community Pediatrics practices across the area. To learn more, please visit our Weight Management and Wellness Center on the Children’s Hospital website.

We all play a part in improving the health and lives of our children. Be an advocate for healthy lifestyles in your community!