Here are some resources and links that can help parents who want to take charge of encouraging healthier lifestyles in their families.
Small changes add up over time. Here are a few sites that offer information, suggestions and other ideas for healthier families:
- kidshealth.org Appealing and easy to understand, it is full of easy-to-find information divided among parents, kids and teens. Offers the most parent-friendly body mass index explanation and calculator.
- choosemyplate.gov Plenty of useful information from the USDA about diet and fixing healthy meals on a budget.
- letsgo.org Useful for kids, teens, parents, childcare and health providers, schools and workplaces, from the state of Maine, in attractive handout form. Specific ideas for healthy shopping on a shoestring.
- National Association for Sport and Physical Education This site is not written for kids, but offers physical activity ideas and guidelines for children of different ages and guidelines for parents about what makes sense at different ages.
- Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Childhood obesity page, is full of useful information for anyone interested in keeping children — and themselves — healthy.
- National Institutes of Health Healthy weight tools and straightforward, non-gimmicky advice for parents. Free iPhone app, BMI calculator and meal planner.
- Center for Science in the Public Interest This site is loaded with information about processed food and other hazards lurking in the supermarket.
- Weight-Control Information Network offers excellent definitions and basic info.
- The federal Centers for Disease Control have BMI calculators for adults, too. Very easy to use.
- Be active yourself. Be a good role model. Let your kids see you walking, biking, swimming. Play ball or do other physical activities with them. Turn the jump rope.
- Limit TV time and screen time (video games, texting, computer) to two hours or less per day. Screen time has been linked to obesity by many researchers. When children are in front of a screen, they are not active.
- Inventory your kids’ toys. Which cause them to be physically active? Hula hoops? Jump ropes? When you choose toys, think about that.
- In casual conversation, talk fitness and the importance of getting your heart rate up. Teach kids how to measure their heart rate.
- Make it as easy for your child to be active every day. Invest in a basketball hoop or a small trampoline. If your child wants to be on a team, do what you can to get him or her there.
- Consider volunteering as a coach. Get together with other parents to organize active after school activities.
- Think of safe outdoor places where your child can play with other kids. Make active play dates with parents of other kids in places where children and adults can throw a Frisbee or have races.
Find more ideas and resources at www.wvgazette.com/news/theshapewerein.
Sources: KidsHealth.org; Centers for Disease Control; Weight-control Information Network: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases