September is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

9-12-5210Nicole Goben, MS, RD, CDN

As our kids start boarding the school bus this year with fresh sneakers and lunch bags it’s a great time to start new habits to keep our kids happy, healthy and active! There are simple things we can do every day to promote healthy weight maintenance.

The “5-2-1-0” daily program endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics is a guide for parents and caregivers to help children cultivate healthy habits. This program promotes kids to aim for five fruits and vegetables per day; keep recreational screen time to two hours or less; include at least one hour of active play; and skip sugar-sweetened beverages.

Below are some tips and tricks to meet each healthy habit!



Aim for eating five fruits and vegetables per day

  • Add raw fruits and veggies to your child’s lunch box and keep them readily available at home.
  • Let kids use dipping sauces such as yogurt, hummus, salsa or light ranch dressing.
  • Add shredded carrots or frozen veggies to cooked rice or pasta.
  • Serve a vegetable soup or side salad with dinner.

Limit screen time (including TV, computers and video games) to two hours or less daily

  • Don’t allow screens in your child’s bedroom.
  • Turn off the TV during meals and snacks.
  • Enjoy other family activities such as playing board games, reading together or doing outdoor activities.

Promote one hour or more of physical activity every day

  • Make physical activity part of your daily routine: take the stairs instead of the elevator and park further from the door in parking lots.
  • Take a walk or ride bikes together after dinner.
  • Plan active outings on weekends such as hiking, swimming or playing at the park.
  • Encourage physical activity in your child’s school or enroll them in a community sports team or dance class.

Cut out sugary drinks

  • Bring less sugary beverages into the house such as soda, lemonades, fruit punch and sports drinks.
  • Go easy on the fruit juice – stick to a 4-ounce portion.
  • Replace sugary beverages with water.
  • Flavor water with a splash of fruit juice or cut up fruit.
  • Pack a frozen water bottle with your child’s lunch to serve both as an ice pack and a refreshing drink!

Remember that children learn by example! If they see you enjoy munching on carrot sticks, carrying around a bottle of water and getting your exercise they are more likely to do the same. Try including your kids in the kitchen to prepare dinner and pack lunches to keep them involved in making healthy choices (and keep them away from the TV)!