Childhood obesity has more than doubled in the past 30 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In recognition of September as National Childhood Obesity Month, Oklahoma City Indian Clinic (OKCIC) offered tips to promote healthy eating among Oklahoma children.
“Childhood obesity is a serious issue, especially among American Indian youth,” explained Robyn Sunday-Allen, CEO of OKCIC. “By teaching our children to eat healthy at a young age, we can help them build healthy habits they will continue to use later on in life.”
Oklahoma City Indian Clinic offered the following tips to encourage healthy eating:
Choose Healthy Alternatives
Replacing your child’s favorite dish with a similar tasting, yet healthy alternative allows them to keep the tastes they love with fewer calories. Healthy, low-calorie options are available for many dishes. Try swapping low-calorie popcorn, almond or skim milk and frozen yogurt for their high-calorie counterparts. Substituting fruit and vegetables for high-carb items in meals can help children reach the recommended five fruit and vegetable servings per day.
Like sugar, snacking is fine if done in moderation. Growing children need to eat more than three times a day, but allowing excessive snacking can lead to loss of appetite and weight problems. Limit snacking to two times a day between three well-balanced meals. Healthy snacks include whole grains, lean protein, fruits and vegetables. Drinking water throughout the day can also help reduce hunger and snacking in between meals.
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Make Food Fun
Parents can encourage their children to take a more active role in their healthy eating by having them help prepare meals. Helping shop for food, mixing ingredients and assisting to serve the family are all safe ways kids can interact with you in the kitchen. Preparing meals with color is also a great way to make healthy eating fun. Incorporate brightly colored foods like carrots, squash and broccoli for a visually appealing meal.
Keep Children Active
Encourage children to spend at least an hour outside each day in high-energy activities like sports or other activities that will burn calories and strengthen appetite. Get the family involved with a group walk or bike ride. In addition to being active, limiting the time children spend in front of a television, computer or video games to two hours or less a day can help decrease their chances for obesity.
Oklahoma City Indian Clinic (OKCIC) was established in 1974 to provide health care and wellness services to American Indians in central Oklahoma. The clinic staff cares for more than 20,000 patients from more than 220 federally recognized tribes every year. American Indians can receive a range of services, including medical, dental, pediatrics, prenatal, pharmacy, optometry, physical fitness, nutrition, family programs and behavioral health services. For more information, visit OKCIC.com.