April is Military Children’s Health Month

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Air Force graphic by Steve Thompson

Did you know that one in five U.S. children over age 5 has unhealthy cholesterol? This leaves the child at an increased risk for heart disease and stroke as they reach adulthood.

This is alarming since experts say approximately one in three of U.S. children and adolescents are either overweight or obese.

Get your child on the path to healthy eating
* Focus on the meal and each other. Your child learns by watching you. Children are likely to copy your table manners, your likes and dislikes, and your willingness to try new foods.
* Offer a variety of healthy foods. Let your child choose how much to eat. Children are more likely to enjoy a food when eating it is their own choice.
* Be patient with your child. Sometimes new foods take time. Give children a taste at first and be patient with them. Offer new foods many times.
* Let your children serve themselves. Teach your children to take small amounts at first.  Let them know they can get more if they are still hungry.
* Have your child aim for five or more servings of fruits and vegetables (combined) daily.
* Have your child eat more whole grains and less sugar.

Get your child to be physically active
Physical activity is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle. In combination with healthy eating, it can help prevent a range of chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer and stroke, which are the three leading causes of death.
 
Physical activity helps control weight, builds lean muscle, reduces fat, promotes strong bone, muscle and joint development, and decreases the risk of obesity. 

The American Heart Association recommends that children and adolescents participate in at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day.

Physical activity produces overall physical, psychological and social benefits, and should consist of play, games, sports, transportation, chores, recreation, physical education, or planned exercise. 

Encourage children to participate in activities that are age-appropriate, enjoyable and offer variety!

Editor’s note: Information for this article provided by the U.S. National Library of Medicine.