Physical Activity

 

What leads to weight gain?
Why is there concern about overweight and obesity in children?
Why is physical activity important for young children?*
What can you do about your child's weight?
Need more information?

Physical activity can help children and adults maintain a healthy weight!

Overweight and obesity rates continue to increase in the U.S. as well as Maine.

  Overweight and Obese Obese
U.S. adults 68% 33.8%
Maine adults   25.2%
U.S. children 2-19 years   17%
U.S. children 2-5 years   10.4%
U.S. children 6-11 years   19.6%
U.S. children 12-19 years   18.1%

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What leads to weight gain?

  • Poor food choices
  • Lack of physical activity (play time for children; leisure time physical activity for adults)
  • Screen time (television, computer time, video games, etc) – when children have a lot of screen time in their day, they not only have less time for physical play time, but there is a good chance they are doing "mindless" eating, are seeing many ads for unhealthy foods (which influence food purchases later); screen time also lowers a person's metabolic rate (number of calories the body uses while at rest)
  • Surroundings (such as busy streets which are not safe areas for children to play outside)
  • Genetics (what we were born with)

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Why is there concern about overweight and obesity in children?

  • Increases the risk of heart disease – obese children have higher rates of "adult" problems, including high cholesterol and increased blood pressure
  • Increased rates of Type 2 Diabetes (in the past, this was a problem only found in overweight adults)
  • Sleep apnea (also a problem normally only for overweight adults)
  • Increased asthma problems
  • If a child is obese, he or she will most likely be an obese adult
  • Higher health care costs over a lifetime

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Why is physical activity important for young children?*

Active play helps babies and young children to develop normally. Through playing, children learn:

  • About their bodies
  • What their bodies can do
  • How to control things around them
  • Important motor skills like how to crawl, walk, run, hop, skip, jump, and slide

Active play enhances skills children will need later in life for math, science and reading.

*Information from: Parent's Guide to Physical Play, The Diane Lindner-Goldberg Child Institute, Hofstra University, Hempstead, N.Y.

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What can you do about your child's weight?

Get active with your children!

Choose healthy foods for your family – remember that a parent's job is to choose what foods to feed your children. If you have questions about healthy food choices, talk to your WIC counselor.

  • Include fruits and/or vegetables at every meal.
  • Choose low-fat dairy foods for your family.
  • Limit high-calorie snack foods in the house (like chips, cookies, or brownies).
  • Keep fresh fruits handy for snacks.
  • Limit sugar-sweetened beverages (including fruit juice); provide children with water when they are thirsty between meals.

Set a good example! Make playtime a part of your day?young children are more likely to be involved in active play if you join them. Show them that active play is fun!

  • Reward good behavior with fitness activities, not food or extra screen time. Take a walk, go swimming, or have snow play time.
  • Look for ways to spend family time in active play. Go biking or walking together, fly a kite, or plan a day at the beach together.
  • Let your children see you doing active things every day
  • Limit screen time; the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends: No TV or screen time for children 2 years or younger, and no more than 2 hours screen time per day for children older than 2 years.

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Need more information? Try these links:

Head Start Body Start
http://www.aahperd.org/headstartbodystart/

Keep ME Well
http://www.keepmewell.org/

Healthy Maine Partnerships
http://www.healthymainepartnerships.org/

Walking Trails in Maine
http://healthymainewalks.org/

Tips for Parents: Ideas to Help Children Maintain a Healthy Weight
http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/children/index.html

We Can! Ways to Enhance Children's Activity and Nutrition
http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/obesity/wecan/get-active/index.htm

Eat Smart. Play Hard
http://teamnutrition.usda.gov/Resources/eatsmartmaterials.html

Choose My Plate for healthy eating tips for you and your family http://www.choosemyplate.gov/

Fruits and Veggies More Matters
http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/

Let's Go! Resources
http://www.letsgo.org/resources/

President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports
http://www.fitness.gov/

 

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