There is a lot of concern about children’s health in America right now. This is not a new phenomenon: Calvin Coolidge instigated the annual ‘Children’s Health Day’ in 1928. It takes place on the first Monday in October each year. Health professionals from across the United States come together to discuss childhood nutrition, fitness, obesity, and health education.
Most health professionals agree that the key to healthy choices is education from an early age before bad habits have time to form. Parents must protect and develop the health of their children from the beginning.
Apparently, one in six children in the United States is obese, and this can lead to health problems such as asthma, diabetes, and heart disease.
What can we do?
The problem today is that children have access to computers, electronic games and of course television. Obviously, these are all sedentary hobbies and kids don’t get enough exercise.
In the past, children played in the street with their friends running here, there and everywhere, only coming home when they were hungry or it was getting dark. Safety-conscious parents these days are unwilling to let their children go out alone; it’s much easier and safer to let them sit in front of the TV or at a computer. Also, due to time constraints and work commitments, parents often take their children everywhere.
One solution to this problem is to enroll your child in one of the many early childhood education programs available. Many of these schemes combine play, exercise and learning and can greatly improve your child’s social and behavioral skills.
A child’s diet is important.
Another important issue in child health care is diet.
First of all, it is important to lead by example: overweight parents tend to have overweight children. Serve a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables and watch your portion size—a seven- or eight-year-old doesn’t need an adult portion. Cut back on snacks and fizzy drinks, or make sure snacks are healthy. Children can easily get used to peeled baby carrots (very crunchy and sweet), apple and banana slices, or seedless grapes.
If you take your child to one of the great early childhood education programs, make sure your lunch box is stocked with healthy foods.
You can provide peeled and sliced raw vegetables with a yogurt dip, some whole-grain bread, a favorite fruit, some cold chicken, a mixed salad with sweet corn and grated carrots, and water or low-fat milk to drink. Whatever you do, ditch the cookies, chips, chocolate, and fizzy drinks!