September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month and a growing concern among American Indian children.
“Recent studies by the American Diabetes Association indicate one in two American Indian children will develop Type 2 diabetes, as a result of obesity; a rate higher than any other racial or ethnic group,” says a press release from the Oklahoma City Indian Clinic.
“Childhood obesity is a common disease we see in American Indian youth,” Harmon-y Pediatric Clinic endocrinologist Dr. Paul Dasari said in the release. “But by teaching them healthy eating habits and encouraging exercise at an early age, parents can help their children create routines that will be beneficial to their lifestyle as they grow up.”
To help parents in this endeavor, the Oklahoma City Indian Clinic and its Harmon-y Pediatric Clinic are offering the following tips to American Indian parents to help keep their children healthy and prevent obesity:
Encourage healthy eating habits. It is important to set ground rules when it comes to food, such as limiting snacks and the number of times you eat out at restaurants. Helping your children develop healthy eating habits will boost their immune system and help prevent weight-related issues as they get older.
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Make favorite foods healthier. Foods like ice cream, pizza and pasta, while tasty, are not healthy for growing children. By changing some recipes or replacing these items with a healthy alternative, such as frozen yogurt in place of ice cream and or spaghetti squash in place of pasta, you can make a big difference in your child’s health, but still allow them to eat the foods they like.
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Help your children stay active. According to the American Heart Association, children and teens should engage in at least 60 minutes of high-energy physical activity on a daily basis. This does not necessarily mean having a strict exercise routine. Children can stay active by getting involved in sports or other physical activities to help them burn calories. Group bike rides or walks are great ways to include the whole family. Limiting TV and Internet time for young children is also a great way to keep them from developing a sedentary lifestyle.
Set the example. Children pick up on what their parents do and say. It is important to lead by example when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle. Creating healthy eating habits and staying active will help encourage them to do the same. If you are not willing to take control of your health, then your children will not see the need to either.