Get Your Kids Off the Couch!

By Traci F. Gardner, MD

When the First Lady Michelle Obama decided to launch her “Let’s Move” initiative more than two years ago, I thought, Finally!  Throughout my  years as a pediatrician, children had been telling me that their extra-curricular activity was playing video games. We’ve raised a generation of couch potato kids.

Michelle Obama admitted that even she wasn’t fully aware of the seriousness of the problem of childhood obesity until it hit home with one of her own girls a few years ago. Now, thankfully, most parents are aware of the need for their kids to get more exercise. For the first time ever, “lack of exercise” topped  the list in annual poll asking adults to identify the top 10 health concerns for kids in their communities.

The rise of obesity in children and teens may  lead to health problems as adults, such as heart disease, asthma, Type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea–as well social discrimination. The latter is the social stigma and stress children may endure because of peer isolation and taunting. Nobody wants to be The Fat Kid. These behaviors can lead to low self-esteem, academic difficulties and problems with social functioning that can persist long into adulthood.

In conjunction with the launch of “Let’s Move,” President Obama established the first-ever Task Force on Childhood Obesity. Click here to download its full report. The truth is there is no miracle pill or magic wand that can substitute for good old fashion exercise.

So here are three tips to get you and your family started:

* Get your kids off the couch for 30 minutes of exercise daily.

*Limit video game use to 1 hour daily and preferably only on weekends

*Exercise as a family. Go for power walks together at least once each week. MAKE IT A PRIORITY!

When you make a commitment to healthy living as a family  you  are truly giving your children tools that will help them physically and socially for a lifetime. Kudos to President Obama and the First Lady  for making the health of our children a priority for our nation.


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