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The Declining Quality of Children’s Diets and What to do About It

According to the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, children between the ages of two and nine have diets that are less than desirable. This is an extremely important issue because poor eating habits that start early in life are likely to continue into adulthood, resulting in a host of health problems that might otherwise be avoided.

Over the past few decades children in the United States have developed an alarming trend of eating junk food, being inactive, and becoming obese at very early ages. It is no longer uncommon to find children as young as four or five years old who suffer from high blood pressure or high cholesterol. While heredity is partly to blame in some cases, the vast majority of them are caused by poor diet and lack of exercise.

How to Improve your Child’s Diet

If you want your child to be healthy and have a greater chance of developing into a healthy adult, you need to take action now to change your child’s eating habits. The earlier you begin this process the easier it will be on both of you. Keep in mind that once a child has been allowed to consume whatever type of junk food they want for years it becomes much more difficult to try to get them to change.

Start by introducing whole grains into your child’s diet and gradually try to eliminate most refined sugars. Two of the most important items to cut out of your child’s diet are sodas (both regular and diet) and fruit drinks. Beverages that contain artificial sweeteners are just as harmful as those that are full of sugar. They both contain a certain amount of chemicals and contribute to a variety of health problems. Try to get your child used to drinking water. To help with this process you might want to try introducing some flavored waters, but be careful that you don’t select those containing artificial sweeteners.

You must become proactive when it comes to reading labels. Avoid foods that are high in fat, particularly saturated fats, and try to avoid trans fats entirely. If your family eats at restaurants or gets takeout a lot simply because of time constraints and convenience, try to make healthier choices. Instead of choosing fried foods, order something baked or broiled, or order a salad with fat free dressing.

Get them Moving!

Exercise is such an important component to our overall health. Children and adults need regular amounts of aerobic exercise in order to remain healthy. If your child isn’t interested in participating in sports at school, or if your child is too young to be in school yet, make an effort to get them active. Take them for walks everyday or play games in the backyard that will keep them moving.

You need to try to structure your child’s day so that he or she isn’t simply vegetating in front of the television or computer mindlessly killing time. If you can’t get them motivated to become more active around the house, consider enrolling them in some type of activity such as karate, dance, or a little league team. You may have to try several different activities before you find one that your child really seems to enjoy, but if you keep at it you will probably find something that will hold your child’s interest and keep them active.

By Cyndra Neal

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