By Shanel Evans, Competitive Edge Athletic Performance Center
Childhood obesity has tripled in the United States since 1970, and rose an additional five percent between 2013 and 2016. In honor of Childhood Obesity Awareness month, Competitive Edge aims to be part of the solution. We are passionate about the role regular physical activity plays in eradicating obesity, but we are also passionate about teaching kids to make healthy choices about food.
Food Is Fuel
Food should, without a doubt, be a source of pleasure, but not at the expense of eating healthy whole foods. While it might be easy to write off a child’s love of soda, sweets, chips and fried food as age-appropriate, we must educate kids about the importance of eating well-balanced meals. Kids who eat well-balanced diets with 90 percent or more whole foods tend to have:
- Improved academic performance
- Fewer disciplinary problems
- Better overall health
- Higher self-esteem
- More energy for physical activity
Unfortunately, School Lunch and Food Options Are Part of the Problem
Even if you provide your child with healthy meals at home, the snacks and meals they eat at school can negate their at-home healthy habits.
- Over 80 percent of school breakfast/lunch programs do not meet USDA standards for fat consumption.
- Over 43 percent of elementary schools, and almost all middle and high schools, have vending machines.
- Kids who eat school lunch will likely eat two fewer servings of fruits or veggies a day and two more servings of fried foods.
Teaching Kids How to Make Healthy Food Choices
Parents and teachers must educate kids on how to make healthy food choices, even when selecting their meals at school. This is a conversation many parents forget to have. While we may model healthy eating at home, we can’t forget the importance of explaining the “how” and the “why.” To keep things fun and make things easy, Nourish Interactive has some kid-friendly nutritional tools and games. This includes fun visuals with the updated food pyramid, how to portion the perfect plate, the role food plays in helping our bodies thrive, how to schedule treats and more!
Rethinking the Word “Diet”
Over the years, the word “diet” has been redefined as a means of nutritional deprivation. However, the true definition refers to the fact we all have pre-established dietary habits. This is an important concept parents must discuss with their children, especially those struggling with their weight. The goal must not be to put your child on a diet but to establish healthy new dietary patterns. This must be created and communicated in an emotionally uplifting manner, where healthy dietary choices and scheduled treats are modeled by all members of the family.
More than 70 percent of children who struggle with childhood obesity will retain their weight in adulthood, so the sooner healthy patterns are established or restored the better. Keep an eye out for Childhood Obesity Awareness Part 2, where we will discuss the physical lifestyle changes that will help kids achieve a healthy weight and BMI.
Competitive Edge aims to develop the “complete athlete” using performance sports training in Woodbridge and surrounding areas. Members are able to enhance their athletic performance and develop a competitive edge to excel in their desired sport.