Sunday, April 15, 2012

Cut 64 Calories Per Day to Meet Childhood Obesity Prevention Goals

At the rate we're going, 1 in 5 children will be obese by the year 2020.

According to a report released this week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has set a goal of reducing the childhood obesity rate to 14.6% by 2020. Their message: children aged 2 to 19 would need to eliminate an average of 64 calories per day to meet this goal. Currently 16.9% of American children are obese and if we don't slash the calories, more than 20% of our youth will be obese by 2020.

I think this news can be viewed in a positive light. Why? It demonstrates that we have a lot of control over childhood obesity and can take some small steps to begin to remedy the problem so that our children can grow up to be healthier. It's really easy to cut out 64 calories! Granted, different populations have different rates of obesity, requiring that heavier populations cut more calories. White children would need to slash an average of 46 calories per day, while Mexican American children need to cut 91 calories and African American children need to reduce their diets by 138 calories per day.

We don't need policies to make this happen. Just band together as a nation, learn about good nutrition and take some simple action steps. Here are some ways to easily cut 100 calories from your child's diet daily, without over-restricting (and these are also ideas that are healthy for the entire family):
  • Take a family walk for 30 minutes (or do any physical activity for 30-60 minutes!)
  • Replace one sugar-sweetened beverage with a calorie-free alternative, like diet soda, powdered drink mix or flavored water
  • Replace 2 cookies with a piece of fruit
  • Trade a bag of potato chips for baked chips or pretzels
  • Swap french fries for a medium-sized baked potato
  • Swap bologna or hot dogs for sliced turkey or ham
  • Reduce meat portion sizes from 5 ounces to 3 ounces
  • Instead of 1 tablespoon of oil, use 1 teaspoon for cooking (per person)
  • Trade a sugar-sweetened cereal for an unsweetened cereal
  • Swap ice cream for low-fat yogurt
  • Replace packaged macaroni and cheese with whole wheat noodles topped with some Parmesan and herbs
  • Trade sausage and bacon at breakfast for ham or Canadian bacon
  • Exchange snack cakes for low-fat pudding cups
As a family, make sure that you're making smart food choices everyday. A healthy diet includes a variety of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, lean meats and healthy fats. Serve moderate portion sizes and ensure physical activity is a part of every day!

If you and your family are struggling with weight loss and want to make a difference in your health, see a dietitian. Visit RDbyyourside and find more tips here.

The referenced study was published this week in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Read more about helping your child lose weight from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) here.

Don't forget about my Mother's Day give-away! Contest ends April 29. Visit RDbyyourside on Facebook to enter. More details here.

Photo credit: photostock