Well, the only thing that is going to be quick about these tips are that you can read them quickly.
Do you want to lose weight or help your children lose weight?
We read and hear a lot about losing weight on a daily basis, now that obesity is being recognized as an increasing problem. Overweight adults often try things like the South Beach Diet, Atkins Diet, and pills to lose weight, like Xenical. And except for Xenical which has recently been approved for overweight teens, most of these aren't good options for kids.
So what is the quick and easy answer to losing weight?
Diet and exercise of course.
Everyone knows that a healthy diet and regular exercise are the big answers to losing weight and staying at a healthy weight. We don't need a lot of new research looking into the causes of obesity. It isn't just fast food, or larger portion sizes, or increased inactivity, that are causing more kids and adults to be overweight.
Nobody is going to find one single thing that they can easily change and make fewer people overweight.
For most people, it is a combination of all of these things.
And so the problem is more how do you get motivated to eat healthier and exercise. That's the hard part. Even if you can get motivated to start eating better and exercising more, keeping it up is even harder.
Kids have a kind of built in way to get motivated though.
And that is through going to school each day.
But instead of major changes at school to provide kids with healthy meals and regular exercise, they make very small steps, like banning soda and fruit drinks.
Diabetes screening programs are another example. In Texas, a law has recently been expaned which requires schools to screen students for acanthosis nigricans, a light brown or black velvety, rough, or thickened area on the surface of the skin, which can sometimes be a sign of type II diabetes. But since the law does nothing to educate children or provide healthier nutrition or increased physical fitness for these students that are identified as having type II diabetes, which are often the initial treatments, it likely won't help too many kids.
Big changes at school might help kids be more healthy though, including:
- real daily physical education requirements
- only offering healthy foods at school meals, without any unhealthy foods or snacks offered as an option for kids who don't want to eat healthy
- having fitness equipment available to all students and not just those participating in formal sports
- increasing the number of informal sports that kids can play, so that they don't have to be on the varsity basketball team to play basketball at school, for example
Of all of these changes, the increased physical education requirements will likely be the most helpful. In addition to helping kids reach a healthy weight and avoid becoming overweight, regular exercise can help to build good habits that might last into adulthood.
To be helpful, schools school institute a policy to meet the American Heart Association's recommendation that kids get 'at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day'.
Unfortunately, even when schools make such requirements, there are often ways around them, like counting recess as physical education or counting non-fitness type electives as physical education.
Why is more exercise at school important? Getting kids to exercise more after school can be hard, even if you can motivate them to do so. After limiting TV, video games and the internet, with homework and dinner, there still isn't a lot of time left over for most kids to get outside and be active. Making fitness a regular and daily class that kids have to go to makes it have a built in source of motivation.
What do you think would be most helpful for your overweight kids?