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EAT: HEALTHY SNACKS EVEN PICKY KIDS WILL EAT

Childhood obesity has been a hot item on the national agenda in recent years, and for good reason. Over the last thirty years, childhood obesity has tripled throughout the U.S. This means that one child out of three is overweight or obese.

What does it mean to be overweight or obese?

  • Overweight = carrying excess body weight for a particular height from fat, muscle, bone, water, or a combination
  • Obesity = having excess body fat and a body mass index (BMI), calculated using height and weight, over 30

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children who are obese are five times more likely to be overweight or obese adults and are susceptible to adult health issues such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, cancers, and osteoarthritis. The immediate effects of childhood obesity are also cause for concern and include a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, pre-diabetes, and poor self-esteem.

In light of these grim findings, there is light on the horizon—between 2008 and 2013, childhood obesity decreased in 19 out of 43 states studies in low-income preschool populations. National campaigns, such as Let’s Move and the President’s Challenge aim to reduce to prevalence of childhood obesity by encouraging children to increase their physical activity and eat healthy by emphasizing that healthy habits start at home.

Studies have shown that although friends, school, media, and personal preference influence a young child’s diet, parents have the strongest influence on healthy eating behaviors and habits that last a lifetime. Young children are more likely than older children to look to their parents as role models, so creating healthy eating habits while children are young is important.

To get kids excited about eating well, you might consider making snacks a fun family affair. Below are five tips to make cheap, easy, and quick snacks that your kids will actually eat.

1. Smoothies. Blend fat-free or low-fat yogurt or milk with fruit pieces and crushed ice. Use fresh, frozen, canned, and even overripe fruits. Try frozen bananas, berries, peaches, and/or pineapple, and skip the ice.

2. Dips. Create a quick dip out of yogurt and various seasonings and herbs, such as garlic, to serve with raw vegetables. You can also mix yogurt and cinnamon or vanilla to dip fruit in. Your kids will enjoy dipping their food in a healthy and yummy alternative.

3. Caterpillar kabobs. Assemble chunks of melon, apple, orange, and pear on skewers for a fruity kabob. For a raw veggie version, use vegetables like zucchini, cucumber, squash, sweet peppers, or tomatoes.

4. Mini-pizzas. Use whole wheat English muffins, tomato sauce, low fat cheese, and fresh veggies to create mini personal pizzas

5. Frozen fruit. Place rinsed melons of bananas in the freezer for a cool, healthy, refreshing treat. A good ice cream alternative, especially with summer around the corner!

Sources:

See choosemyplate.org for more tips and ideas for healthy and easy snacks for your children.

What are some of your favorite healthy snacks to prepare with your children?