Health and Nutrition by the Numbers
Whether watching TV, reading an article, or simply talking to friends, we're inundated with facts every day. Unfortunately, many of these numbers turn out to be quite contrary to actual medical advice. Though the accuracy of a topic like the percentage of people who prefer a certain brand of tissue is not important, recommendations for the health and fitness of our children are vital!
I worked with our medical advisors at Adventure to Fitness (doctors from some of the leading medical institutions in the U.S. versus say, a voice on the radio or that "know it all" in line at the grocery story) to put together this simple list of recommendations to remember with your kids.
60 = Minutes of physical activity kids need per day
Activities can vary – exercise, sports, or games – but kids should get at least 1 hour of physical activity per day.
50% = Portion of plate that should be filled with fruits and vegetables
Lean protein and whole grains are also important, but at least one half of the plate should be filled with fruits and vegetables.
2 & 3 = Minimum number of daily fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables should not be limited to just meals. We also need to ensure that kids are eating healthy snacks; fruits and vegetables are an easy solution.
1% = Maximum amount of fat recommended in milk for kids
Children should have 2-3 cups of dairy each day, depending on their age and sex. Here's a handy chart. Choose non-fat or skim milk to achieve the 1% guideline.
2 = Minimum number of times per week that kids should eat seafood
The portions should be appropriate for children's ages and appetites, though in general, it is recommended that kids eat around 8 ounces of seafood per week.
6 = Maximum ounces of juice recommended for kids per day
Kids often suggest substituting juice for daily fruits, but juices have much higher concentrations of sugar. Experts recommend pure fruit juice and suggest limiting kids to one glass per day.
2 = Maximum hours per day of passive screen time
Screen time has become an increased concern for medical experts and educators alike. The increased sedentary activity from TV, gaming, and the Internet are seen as major reasons for the growth in childhood obesity. Experts also question the learning value from many of these activities. For those familiar with our products, you already know that we try to confront this problem head on by creating adventures that require kids to move and learn while they watch.
10 = Minimum hours of sleep per night for your child
Sufficient sleep is recognized as an essential component of good health and disease prevention. Note that the 10-hour guideline decreases slightly as children age (8.5-9.5 hours for kids 10-17).
?? = Children's BMI levels to be categorized as "underweight," "healthy weight," "overweight," or "obese"
Unlike adults, no single percentage applies to children for any of these categories. By definition, kids are growing and BMI levels must be factored against a child's age and sex. More information -- with charts by age and sex -- can be found on the CDC's website.
In terms of some medical reasons for maintaining a healthy weight, I want to share a reminder from Dr. Jenny Delfin, who's an advisor at Adventure to Fitness and a cardiologist at NYU Langone Medical Center (one of the top-rated cardiology centers in the U.S., according to both U.S. News & World Report and Thomson Reuters). Dr. Delfin states, "Overweight and obese children are at risk for developing diabetes. Importantly, they're more likely to become overweight and obese adults, which in turn increase their likelihood of heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes."
So while there's no single BMI number for children, this measurement is very important. If you have any specific concerns about your child's BMI (or any of the other numbers listed), I would encourage you to consult a medical professional. Even if weight isn't a concern, I hope you find the list helpful for some quick tips to use with your kids!
Were there any numbers that surprised you? Please share your thoughts on the Scholastic Parents Facebook Page for this article.