The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) just released new guidelines to prevent both obesity and eating disorders in America’s youth. These chronic diseases are among the top three that plague children and adolescents in the U.S. About 30% of children and adolescents in the U.S. are now overweight or obese and nearly 3% have been diagnosed with an eating disorder. The nation’s obese youth continue to become more obese despite stable prevalence and more and more children are being diagnosed with eating disorders, especially teens who are just trying to “eat healthier.” When trying to achieve healthier weight, these at-risk populations find themselves on a very slippery slope with good intentions. Additionally, teens often use drastic and dangerous weight loss strategies including severe dieting, diet pills, purging and excessive exercise to get the results they desire.
Everyone knows that children benefit physically from sports, but one of the over-looked benefits of playing sports is the life lessons. Team-based and individual sports can help kids develop a sense of confidence and improve their self-esteem. And you can help. We set the tone for their experiences. Consider the following when exploring sports with your children.
The New Year brings a fresh opportunity to look at old habits. To kick off the new year, consider making one or two resolutions as a family. Most families know what they do well, as well as which habits will only nag their health long-term. If nothing comes to mind, consider the following popular resolutions:
- Build a healthy breakfast with a lean protein and long-lasting source of energy.
- Focus on health and habits, not on weight, this year.
- Make time to be active every day.
- Clean out the cabinets and start the New Year with a healthy plethora of food in the cupboards.
For the last 15 years, I’ve worked with school-age children from elementary school through high school as a special education assistant, track and cross country coach and exercise physiologist in the Pediatric Fitness Clinic. During this time, exercise has been my “go to” tool for handling behavioral, performance and medical concerns. It’s obvious that the need for exercise is universal (emotional, physical, and psychological health). However, approaching your child with the type of activity they are drawn to varies based on their personality. It seems as if certain “Fitness Personalities” occur time and time again. Knowing your child’s personality may help you find the right activity for your child that feels natural, is rewarding and fun.
Outdoor winter activities are enjoyable, but it is always good to be prepared with a list of indoor physical activities for when it is too cold or too rainy to play outside.
These games are fun for kids to play with each other but they will have a blast if their parents play, too!