Ages 3 to 5 Critical to Teach Good Health Habits
Oct 7, 2013 - 12:05:31 AM
1. Kids need to understand how their bodies work. Good food equals a healthy body, strong bones, and fewer illnesses, such as colds.
2. Healthy food habits equal a healthy you. Explain why fruits and vegetables are good for you, rather than simply demanding they be eaten. Explain why too much soda and candy are not the best choices, but don't forbid them altogether. Teach moderation and enjoyment of all foods.
3. Provide good emotional habits and coping skills for life's stresses. Positive emotional health helps kids avoid addictive behavior as they get older. Overeating can become an addictive behavior.
4. Stress physical activity - not just team sports but simple everyday activity like walking, bike riding, and swimming. Kids should run and play every day. Be a good role model. Kids with active parents are more likely to be active themselves. Play with your kids.
It is hard to get adults to adopt healthy habits especially if they already smoke, are overweight, have high blood pressure, or rarely exercise. Only 20% of people with high blood pressure in the U.S. have the problem under control. Most people stop taking their blood pressure medicine after 6 months. In recent decades, worldwide, we have seen a shift in the causes of disability and death from infectious diseases to more chronic diseases that frequently have roots in poor lifestyle choices. Unhealthy habits formed in childhood often persist throughout adulthood.
Some studies have shown that childhood intervention programs to teach healthy living principles might be a more effective way to impact the health of a future generations and it may have a spillover effect on the parents of these children. Kids are an empty slate and far more willing to adopt a healthy lifestyle. When kids change, they become a positive influence on adults in the household.
To test this hypothesis on a larger scale Dr. Jaime Cespedes and colleagues (http://www.amjmed.com/article/S0002-9343(12)00560-8/abstract) designed a preschool educational program in Bogota, Columbia, centered on healthy eating, activity and lifestyle habits. Over 1,200 children, along with teachers and parents, were divided into 2 groups.
Children in the control group continued with the normal preschool curriculum. Children in the intervention group were exposed to educational and play activities, including Sesame Street videos that emphasized healthy eating and an active lifestyle. Parents and teachers participated in workshops with similar themes.
Heart disease is still the number one killer in the U.S. and the rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes are reaching epidemic proportions. An inexpensive and simple education program, that has been successful, should be implemented in U.S. preschool programs, too. It could provide an important key to the health of future generations and help us reinvigorate the progress that has stalled against heart disease prevention in recent years.
(The Dr. Ruster image is provided © 2013 Sesame Workshop. All rights reserved.)
© NRH Nutrition Consultants, Inc.
Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN is a registered dietitian and the author of the nutrition counter series for Pocket Books with sales of more than 8.5 million books.
The Most Complete Food Counter, 3rd ed., 2013
The Calorie Counter, 6th Ed., 2013
The Complete Food Counter, 4th ed., 2012
The Diabetes Counter, 4th Ed., 2011
The Protein Counter, 3rd Ed., 2011
The Ultimate Carbohydrate Counter, 3rd Ed., 2010
The Fat Counter, 7th ed., 2009
The Healthy Wholefoods Counter, 2008
The Cholesterol Counter, 7th Ed., 2008
Your Complete Food Counter App: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/your-complete-food-counter/id444558777?mt=8
For more information on Jo-Ann and her books, go to: www.TheNutritionExperts.com.
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