September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, highlighting a condition that, according to the CDC, affected 20 percent of Americans aged 2 through 19 between 2017 and 2020. Dr. C. Todd Vedder, a pediatrician at Lighthouse Pediatrics of Naples, explains that obesity increases a child’s risk of mental health and medical issues later in life, including anxiety, diabetes, and heart disease. He provides a few tips for addressing issues related to childhood obesity.
Vedder says that healthy habits start with a simple-to-recall zip code: 95210. It stands for getting nine hours of sleep each night, eating five servings of fruits and vegetables per day, limiting recreational screen time to fewer than two hours, getting at least one hour of physical activity every day, and drinking zero sugary beverages (except on special occasions).
Pack a healthy school lunch.
Include tasty, in-season fruits and vegetables in your child’s lunch. Vedder recommends doing meal prep on Sundays to make it quick and easy to put together nutritious lunches on busy weekday mornings.
Make it a family lifestyle.
Commit to making healthy changes each week as a family, whether these include increasing your exercise or cooking more meals at home—and be sure grandparents are in the loop, too. Vedder encourages you to celebrate successes but in ways that don’t hinge upon food.
Focus on healthier choices.
“Don’t focus on scales and diets,” Vedder emphasizes, explaining that it’s more important to work on healthy habits like those outlined in 95210. “Recognize we are blessed as a society to come in all different shapes and sizes.”