Weight may be genetic, but environment makes a difference
It has long been known that weight is genetic. If our parents are overweight, we are at risk of being overweight. Likewise, if we struggle with our weight, our children may struggle with weight.
A new study published in Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics shows that home environment can affect a child’s weight. (https://www.endocrinologyadvisor.com/obesity/high-risk-home-obesity-children/article/807793/). The study looked at 925 sets of twins who were raised in different homes. They were followed from 8 months to 4 years of age. Those whose genes put them at risk for obesity but were raised in homes with a healthy environment were less apt be be overweight than those raised in more unhealthy environment.
What can a parent do?
- Limit your children’s time in front of a screen to no more than 1-2 hours/day, depending on age. This includes TV, videos, computer games, smart phones as well as game-boys.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommends limits on screen/media time for children. https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/Pages/American-Academy-of-Pediatrics-Announces-New-Recommendations-for-Childrens-Media-Use.aspx . These guidelines give specifics for different ages of children.
- Encourage active play. Kids need a good 2 hours or more of physical activity each day. Encourage fun activity vs “exercise”.
- Enforce a bedtime! Sleep is highly correlated to weight. Well rested kids tend to be more active kids. Active kids are less apt to be overweight.
- The national sleep foundation has recommendations for sleep based on age. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/children-and-sleep
- Have healthy foods available for meals and snacks
- Vegetables and fruits
- whole grains
- Proteins (lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, nuts, seeds)
- Dairy products
- Limit high calorie, low nutrient foods
- Chips, and snack foods
- Processed meats (hot dogs, bologna, salami)
- Eat meals together as a family at a table whenever possible. Turn off the TV, computer or videos.
- Have regular meal and snack times, rather than grazing throughout the day.
- Require kids to sit down when they are eating, and eat without doing other activities or watching TV.This will help them to eat when hungry and stop when they are full.
- Limit sugared drinks including soda, fruit drinks, fruit juice, flavored milks to special occasions, with a meal. Encourage water and milk.
For lots more ideas, check out Healthy Choices, Healthy Children, A Guide to Raising Fit, Happy Kids: https://loribrizee.com/writing/healthy-choices-healthy-children/, and check out other articles the Healthy Kids and Parenting sections of this site.
Our environment affects our health. These ideas help all of us to be more healthy and avoid excessive weight gain.sleep