If you have children of your own, or if you are an aunt, uncle, or grandparent it is more than likely that you are aware of childhood obesity but don’t have a real idea of what it is, or how best to deal with it.
Loosely defined, childhood obesity is a condition where excess body fat negatively affects a child’s health. And, because determining percentage of body fat is hard, obesity is most often determined by Body Mass Index (BMI). Put simply, this is a statistical measurement of a person’s weight and height that is used to estimate a healthy body weight by how tall that person is.
Statistically, there is a “normal” range that varies with the child’s gender and age. A child is determined to be obese if their weight is more than 95% of other children their same gender and age.
This is cause for concern because childhood obesity can and does lead to life threatening conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. Some studies indicate the overweight kids grow up to be overweight adults with increased mortality rates. All of this is scary but what can be done to prevent, reduce, or reverse the effects?
Actually there is a pretty simple, easy answer: Children need to consume fewer calories and exercise more. By faithfully following these two rules they will lose weight.
Of course this is much easier said than done, especially now that most schools have eliminated recess and most kids live in homes where both parent work. But, having said that, there are some things you can do to help your kids stay healthy.
Probably the easiest is in the area of diet. I recommend cutting out the sugar-packed cereals, high calorie after school snacks and soft drinks. Again, you are thinking, easier said than done when your kids are attacked by food ads all day long. But, I do have a suggestion: Replace all of the above by adding smoothies to your meal and snack plans.
Why smoothies? Because, smoothies can be made simply and cheaply with almost any fruit or vegetable in partnership with low or no fat yogurt or milk for a healthy, satisfying low calorie meal. Natural sweeteners like honey can be added to satisfy even the worst sweet tooth.
Here is an example of a smoothie recipe I guarantee will be a hit with everyone:
Chocolate Banana Smoothie
– 1 Large Banana
– 1/2 cup low-fat vanilla (or banana) yogurt
– 1 cup low fat soy milk
– 2 Tablespoons dark chocolate syrup
Combine all ingredients in a blender and mix until everything is blended together. Pour into a chilled glass and serve. If you are serving as a dessert, you can also sprinkle a bit of shaved chocolate on top as a garnish.
While I admit this isn’t the lowest calorie smoothie recipe, I am sure that it has fewer calories than a soft drink and bag of chips. And I am certain that it will satisfy the sweetest tooth as well.