Eating Healthy, Activity, and Kids

There is great concern these days for the health of our children. The number of overweight and obese children has doubled in the last two decades. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) proposes to foster the prevention and early identification of overweight and obese children. The AAP makes the following recommendations to pediatricians (and parents): 

  • Calculate and plot BMI (body mass index) once a year in all children and adolescents and use the change in BMI to identify rate of excessive weight gain.

  • Encourage parents and caregivers to promote healthy eating patterns.

  • Routinely promote physical activity, including unstructured play. Recommend limitation of television and video time to a maximum of two hours per day.

More "food" for thought:

  • Over the course of a year, most children and adolescents spend more time watching television than they spend in a classroom. The average child watches 20,000 commercials per year, at least half of which are for sugar-laden foods.

  • Among 12-17 year-olds, the prevalence of obesity rose with each additional hour of watching TV.

  • About a quarter of what adolescents eat is junk food - French fries and other deep-fried foods, desserts, regular soft drinks, candy, cookies, pies and cakes.

  • Whole milk - which is labeled Vitamin D milk in stores - and cheese are major sources of saturated fat in children's diets. Switching from whole milk, ice cream and regular cheese to 1% or non-fat milk, low-fat or fat-free yogurt and low-fat cheese can help reduce saturated fat intake while ensuring children still obtain the calcium and other essential nutrients in dairy foods.

  • Participation in all types of physical activity declines strikingly as age or grade in school increases.

For additional information, please visit the following areas:

Portions of the preceding information has been provided with the kind permission of California Department of Health Services (

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Last Editorial Review: 2/26/2004