Combating Childhood Obesity: 5 Effective Strategies
Childhood obesity is a complex issue with numerous contributing factors, including genetics, diet, physical activity, and sleep routines. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 1 in 5 American children struggle with obesity, putting them at increased risk for various health problems, including:

  • Asthma
  • Sleep apnea
  • Bone and joint problems
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure

Fortunately, parents and caregivers can play a crucial role in helping children achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Here are five effective strategies to share with parents:

  1. Support Healthy Habits in Early Care and Education Settings
  2. Early childhood education programs provide an excellent opportunity to instill healthy habits. By encouraging healthy eating and physical activity, these programs can build a strong foundation for lifelong wellness.

  3. Model a Healthy Eating Pattern at Home
  4. Offer a variety of fruits and vegetables, choose whole grains over refined grains, and opt for lean protein sources. Limit sugary drinks and processed foods, while encouraging water consumption. By following these helpful nutrition guidelines, parents can set their children up for optimal health.

  5. Get Active as a Family
  6. Make physical activity a fun family affair. Go for walks, bike rides, play active games, or participate in sports together. Aim for at least 60 minutes of daily physical activity for children aged 6-17 and encourage movement throughout the day for younger children.

  7. Prioritize Consistent Sleep Routines
  8. Adequate sleep is crucial for children's physical and mental health. Establish consistent bedtime routines, limit screen time before bed, and ensure a sleep-conducive environment. Preschoolers need 11-13 hours of sleep, children aged 6-12 require 9-12 hours, and teenagers need 8-10 hours.

  9. Replace Screen Time with Family Time
  10. Limit screen time to promote healthy sleep, physical activity, and social interaction. Engage in family activities, such as board games, reading, or outdoor adventures. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends creating a family media plan to manage screen time effectively.

By implementing these strategies, parents and caregivers can empower children to develop healthy habits and reduce their risk of obesity-related problems.

Additional Resources

Highmark has a variety of educational resources for combatting childhood obesity on the Provider Resource Center (PRC):

  • Childhood Obesity Bookmarks
  • Childhood Obesity Preventive Health Benefit
  • Preventive Health Reminder Poster

You can access those resources by going to the PRC, selecting EDUCATION/MANUALS from the left menu, and clicking Educational Resources – Member And Provider.

Highmark does not recommend particular treatments or health care services. This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should determine the appropriate treatment and follow-up with your patient. Coverage of services is subject to the terms of each member’s benefit plan. Additionally, state laws and regulations governing health insurance, health plans and coverage may apply and will vary from state to state.