How to combat obesity in children

Experts shared ideas and tips to implement a healthy lifestyle.
Experts shared ideas and tips to implement a healthy lifestyle.
Published: Sep. 19, 2023 at 6:03 PM CDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - September is National Childhood Obesity Month, a disorder that affects one in five children in America. To raise awareness, WVLT News spoke with experts to discover ideas and tips people can implement in their and their children’s day-to-day lives to promote a healthy lifestyle.

“It’s important to be active and also healthy but I also think: What is the definition of healthy? And so I think sometimes people can think over the top,” said Associate Athletic Director for Student Health and Wellness for Knox Catholic High School Allison Maurer.

At least 2 million people each year die as a result of being overweight. Maurer explained what people can do to change this.

“I think we need to reframe the way that healthy is looked at as in all foods can fit. Let’s get some exercise in moderation but it’s so important for kids to know and understand that the way they take care of themselves as kids is going to translate into what they do as adults and the earlier you can start good habits, the better off you’re going to be later in life,” she said.

Studies show a child who is overweight is more likely to have low self-esteem. Kids need at least 30 minutes of exercise or movement a day, and Maurer said that parents are critical to motivating children.

“I think what some people underestimate is the importance of having someone to work out with and if we’re talking kids, that’s where parents really come into play,” Maurer said.

Maurer said there are easy things to do at home. Parents can look up on Google or YouTube and find virtually any exercise with step-by-step instructions to follow.

Maurer recommended parents pack a snack bag with fruits and trail mix so children can avoid eating foods that are simply convenient instead of healthy.

Language is also important when dealing with children and dieting. Maurer recommended parents use wording like “fueling your body,” instead of “eating healthy.” Maurer reiterated that anything is good in moderation, and instilling good, safe practices for children is the highest priority.