Medical Specialties

Healthy Lifestyle Facts

Arizona had the largest increase in obesity for children ages 10 to 17 years old between 2003 and 2007.

Maintaining a healthy body weight is important to your child’s health and well-being.  One of the primary causes of premature cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes in children is being overweight. Body weight can be affected by food intake, exercise, medical conditions, genetics and emotions.  Both eating healthy and getting enough exercise are important for maintaining a healthy weight.

Facts About Body Weight and Health

Overweight children are at higher risk of becoming overweight adults and developing long-term medical problems such as:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Fatty liver disease
  • Difficulty breathing – asthma and sleep apnea
  • Emotional and social problems

Tips to Improve Nutrition and Eating Habits in Kids and Families

Eating a healthy diet, in association with exercise, is an important part of a healthy lifestyle for both kids and adults. Eating nutritious foods and drinks can prevent disease and help maintain a healthy weight. A critical component of this is monitoring calorie intake.

Calories are the measurement of the energy our body gets from food. If we eat more calories than our body uses, the extra calories will be stored as fat and lead to weight gain.  If our bodies use more calories than we eat, we will lose weight. A healthy lifestyle balances the calories eaten and calories used on a daily basis.

Strategies for maintaining a healthy intake of calories and nutrition include:

  • Do it together: Change can be hard and support is critical for lasting change. Make changes as a family and group of friends. Besides, it will be more fun!
  • Out of sight = Out of mind: Remove the temptation and opportunity to have unhealthy foods.
    • Don’t bring home unhealthy foods.
    • Place unhealthy foods in hard to reach places, preferably out of eyesight, like the top shelf, behind healthier choices or the back of the freezer.
    • Place healthy choices in easy to reach places.
    • Replace the candy dish with a fruit bowl.
  • Follow the 5210 Rule:
    • 5 – Have at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day
    • 2 – Cut screen time (watching TV, playing video games) to 2 hours or less a day
    • 1 – Participate in at least 1 hour of physical activity a day.
    • 0 – Have 0 sweetened drinks. Drink water instead.
  • Make favorite meals healthier: People get full based on the amount of food they eat, not the calories they eat,  so you can cut calories and still feel full.  Many of your favorite meals can be modified to use healthier ingredients. Here are some examples of things you can do.
Instead of... Use...
Whole or 2% milk 1% or skim milk
Spread Butter Spray Butter
Sugar Drinks Water or diet / sugar-free drinks
 Whole milk based cheeses Low-fat cheeses
 Sour Cream Low-fat Greek Yogurt
  • Do not use food as a reward or punishment: Rewarding or punishing kids with food can lead to eating disorders. Rewarding kids with treats, most of which are unhealthy, teaches kids to eat when they aren’t hungry and to see these unhealthy treats as better than healthy foods. Depriving kids of food who are hungry can cause them to overeat when they do receive food, since they may be afraid they can’t eat later. Try these alternatives:
    • Allow your child to have a play date or sleep-over with friends.
    • Let your child plan a special outing.
    • Have a family game night and let them pick the game(s).
    • Have a special “treasure box” of special toys, art supplies, computer games to use on special occasions.
    • Read a special nighttime book.
    • Have a system set up for earning rewards such as tickets for movies, going bowling or skating, and other entertainments.

Exercise

Exercise, in association with a healthy diet, is an important part of a healthy lifestyle for both kids and adults. Regular exercise can prevent disease and help maintain a healthy weight. Exercise also helps use calories from food that would otherwise be stored as fat.

Ways of increasing your family’s fitness and health include:

  • Do it together: Look for activities that you can do as a family. This will not only increase the enjoyment of the activity and burn calories; it can also increase communication between family members.
  • Be active at least 60 minutes a day: It is recommended that children, adolescents, and adults participate in 60 minutes of moderately intense physical activity every day.
  • Have fun: Any regular activity needs to be fun to encourage ongoing participation. We should look forward to doing it, not feel like it is a punishment or burden. 
  • Limit sitting time: While quiet time is necessary for homework and reading, limit the time kids spend watching TV, playing video games, and surfing the web to no more than 2 hours a day.

Examples of moderately intense physical activities include:

  • Brisk walking and hiking
  • Playing tag
  • Jumping rope
  • Playing soccer
  • Swimming
  • Dancing

Contact 

Phone: (602) 933-0677
Fax: (602) 933-0610

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