One way to halt soaring childhood obesity rates in countries like the US? Cut 64 excess calories a day, on average, from children’s diets, claim US scientists in a new study published on Tuesday.
While shaving 64 calories may not seem like a lot, researchers from Columbia University state that doing so can make a big impact in reducing obesity rates by 2020 in the nation. Add in a healthy dose of exercise and the combination of reduced calories and enhanced activity could “close the gap” between how many calories young people are consuming and how many they expend, said the researchers.
Without this simple daily calorie reduction, the authors predict that the average American youth would be nearly four pounds (1.8 kilos) heavier than a child or teen of the same age five years ago, and more than 20 percent of kids would be obese, up from 16.9 percent today, stated a press release. The study appears in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
The researchers emphasize that 64 calories is an average, with some children needing to cut more, others less. Still, the study does illustrate how a few small measures could make a big impact on weight in the long term.
The Mayo Clinic in the US recommends you start small when it comes to helping your child lose weight. Make small, gradual changes, such as turning off the television during dinner, switching from soda or sugary beverages to skim milk or water, and taking a family walk after dinner once a week.
Be sure to stock your kitchen with fruits, vegetables and whole-grain foods, rather than snack foods and sugary drinks. Also, reduce the number of meals your family eats in fast-food and other restaurants, and sit down together for family meals. The Mayo Clinic also recommends serving reasonable portion sizes and allowing second helpings to be only for salad, fruits and vegetables.