Written by the NIH Weight-Control Information Network
For many, September marks the start of a new school year. It is also National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. This observance is especially important in the United States, where about one-third of children and teens are overweight or obese. With extra weight in young people linked to diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, many people may want to help youth improve their health throughout the year.
The Weight-control Information Network (WIN) offers these ideas for helping an overweight child:
- Set a good example. Show your child that you are physically active and enjoy what you do.
- Be active together as a family. Assign active chores, such as making beds, sweeping, or vacuuming. Plan active outings, like a walk through a local park.
- Encourage your child to join a sports team or class, such as basketball, dance, or soccer, at school or at your local community or recreation center.
- If your child feels uncomfortable playing sports, help him or her find physical activities that are fun and not competitive, such as playing tag, jumping rope, or riding a bike.
For teens, WIN offers these tips:
- Be physically active for 60 minutes a day. It’s fine if you can’t do it all at once! You can be active for as little as 10 minutes at a time, spread throughout the day.
- Walk or bike to school if you live nearby and can safely do so.
- Between classes, stand up and walk around, even if your next subject is in the same room.
- Choose activities you like. Try running, playing flag football, or having a dance party with friends.
Find more ideas for helping kids in WIN’s Helping Your Overweight Child. Also available in Spanish, this brochure offers tips for parents and other caregivers to support an overweight child while also helping her or him to be healthy. Along with ideas to help your child be more active, it features lists of healthy snacks and tips to help your child consume healthy foods and beverages each day.
For the teen in your life, check out WIN’s Take Charge of Your Health: A Guide for Teenagers, also available in Spanish. This booklet gives teens basic facts about regular physical activity and healthy food and beverage choices and offers practical tips they can use in everyday life.
Have you done something that worked to encourage kids and teens to get more physical activity? What did you do?