Nutrition and exercise habits made during childhood can be vital for a person’s long-term health. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reports that children now spend over 7.5 hours in front of a screen each day, showing the lack of youth exercise.
The organization also reported the number of obese children has increased from 4 to 20 percent over the past 40 years, reflecting the lack of nutritional awareness among our youth. Developing a healthy lifestyle for a child through proper nutrition and exercise will create a healthier life for children and make a difference for children in future generations.
A healthy eating plan can help individuals achieve and maintain a healthy body weight, consume important nutrients, and reduce the risk of developing negative health conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis, iron deficiency or dental cavities.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that empty calories from added sugars and solid fats contribute to 40 percent of daily calories for children and adolescents age 2 to 18 years, which do not provide any nutritional value and can harm a child’s long term health. Approximately half of these empty calories come from six sources including, soda, fruit drinks, dairy desserts, grain desserts, pizza and whole milk. Most youth also do not consume the recommended amount of water.
Although fruit and vegetable intake among children increased from 2003 to 2010, statistics still showed that children were not receiving the proper amount of nutrients from these categories. The Mayo Clinic reports that youth from ages 4 to 8 should receive approximately 1 to 2 cups of fruit and 1.5 to 2.5 cups of vegetables per day, depending on the age and gender of the child.
Children in this age range also should consume approximately 1,200 to 2,000 healthy calories a day, depending on the age and gender of the child. Keeping track of a child’s caloric intake and other nutrients also can help to create healthy habits for a child. Along with nutrition, exercise also is important when attempting to create a healthy lifestyle for children.