or more servings of fruits and vegetables (combined total) per day
Fruits and vegetables contain many vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients that a child’s body needs. These nutrient dense foods should take the place of high-calorie foods within a child’s daily food menu. Research indicates that children who eat five or more servings of fruit and vegetables a day are significantly less likely to become overweight or develop obesity than children who eat less than three servings per day. High fruit and vegetable consumption also decreases risk of cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Ensure that your child eats fruits and vegetables at every meal and as part of balanced snacks between meals.
hours or less of screen time per day
Children who have more than two hours of screen time (TV, computer, video games, mobile devices) per day have double the incidence of obesity, compared to children who watch less than one hour per day. Limit screen time to two hours or less per day, plus keep children physically active. Children under the age of 2 should not be allowed to watch TV. No matter what age, there should also be no TV in the bedroom. It disrupts sleep patterns and can foster too much time being inactive.
hour or more of physical activity per day
Physical and mental health improves significantly when children and teenagers complete 60 minutes of physical activity per day. Encourage your child to be active in place of screen time! Have a goal of 60 minutes a day of moderate physical activity such as playing outdoors, walking, or biking. Any type of planned activity which gets the heart rate up counts!
sugar-sweetened beverages per day (drink water or calorie-free instead)
Reducing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (such as soft drinks, fruit drinks, punches, flavored milks, sports drinks and flavored coffees) is another way to improve health and control weight. These beverages are like liquid candy and should only be allowed on rare occasions. While 100% pure fruit juice does not contain added sugar, it does have a high amount of natural sugar and may well contribute to excess weight gain. Therefore, portions should be limited to 4-6 ounces for children ages 1-6, and 8-12 ounces for ages 7 and up. Give your child fresh fruit instead of juice to achieve the value of the vitamins and minerals along with fiber. More often than juice, provide your child with plain milk and water to drink. Pack the lunch box or give money to purchase water or milk instead of packing a juice box.
Source: Doernbecher Children’s Hospital of Oregon Health & Science University