Being physically active, eating well and decreasing screen time are all things we think about for our kids but maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle for our families can be challenging.
We hear in the news that childhood rates of unhealthy eating, sedentary behavior, inactivity and obesity are on the rise and there are increased risks of health concerns later in life.
As parents, we want to keep our kids on track to a healthy future. So what can you do to ensure your household is setting a good foundation early on?
Know the risk factors that contribute to chronic disease and unhealthy weights:
- consuming food and drinks that are high in sugar, sodium and fat on a regular basis such as fast food, salty snack foods, and pop and other sugar-sweetened beverages
- not being physically active every day
- being sedentary (e.g. watching a lot of TV and playing a lot of video games)
The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology recommends that children between the ages of 5-17 limit recreational screen time to no more than two hours per day.
Know the benefits of healthy eating and physical activity:
- performing better at school
- having better sleep
- increased self esteem
- having more energy for active play
- decreased long term risk factors for chronic disease
- maintaining a healthy weight
Sign up for a MEND program in your community:
MEND (Mind, Exercise, Nutrition....Do it!) is a free, fun, interactive, 10 week group program that gives kids and parents tips and tools they need to live a healthy lifestyle and maintain a healthy weight.
During the MEND program, children and their parents or caregivers participate in group sessions that include a fun mix of interactive family activities, practical demonstrations, games, tips about physical activity, healthy foods, label reading, portion sizes and tools for adopting an overall healthier lifestyle.
Participating YMCA's and BCRPA member recreation centres are registering children 5 to 13 years for sessions starting January and April. For more information visit www.bcchildrens.ca to see if MEND is in your community and for local contact information.
Learn what supports are available:
ShapedownBC: This weight management program provides individual assessment along with support and healthy lifestyle group intervention for families with children, 6 to 17 years. Five communities (Nanaimo, Vancouver, Surrey/Langley, Prince George and Kamloops) currently offer this program.
Physical Activity Line (PAL): A free resource for practical and trusted physical activity and healthy living information. Toll Free: 8-1-1.
HealthLink BC: Call 8-1-1 (toll free) from anywhere in British Columbia to speak with a registered dietitian and get answers to your healthy eating and nutrition questions by a trusted professional. HealthLink BC dietitians can also respond to your questions via email, firstname.lastname@example.org
Today's blog has been written by Karen Strange. Karen is the MEND BC Provincial Manager with the Childhood Obesity Foundation. She is also an adjunct assistant professor at Uvic's School of Exercise Science, Physical and Health Education.