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How to Create a Healthy Home: Top Tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics

Twitter Summary: American Academy of Pediatrics release clinical report on childhood #obesity w/ practical tips on healthy eating for kids

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently released a clinical report that highlights ways to combat the childhood obesity epidemic, a major need as currently over a third of American children are either overweight or obese and childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years. The report focuses both on the roles that pediatricians and families can play in childhood obesity prevention. We outline some key takeaways for families on tips for creating a healthy food environment below, though the extensive report also focuses on topics such as sleep duration, physical activity, and more!

Encouraging a healthy eating environment

  • Make healthier foods more readily available in the home, e.g. placing them at the front of the fridge, having a fruit bowl in lieu of a cookie jar, etc.

  • Conversely, make unhealthier foods less visible by wrapping them in tin foil or placing them in harder to reach areas. [Or not buying them!]

  • Use smaller plates, bowls, and silverware for children, as this can help naturally reduce serving sizes.

  • Repackage high-calorie snacks into smaller containers (i.e., placing chips or crackers into small zip-lock bags), which inhibits kids from eating directly out of the container and can help limit portion sizes.

  • Focus on family-based interventions, where parents, older siblings, and other relatives serve as role models for younger children in regards to healthy eating habits.

Child food recommendations

The report recommends diets rich low-caloric foods such as in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy, legumes, and lean meats and fishes. Full serving size recommendations, by age, can be found here.

Child beverage recommendations

  • Tap water and low-fat milk: the “ideal beverages” for kids of all ages.

  • 100% fruit juices (only in small portions): the report advises that natural, 100% fruit juices (i.e., no artificial sweeteners) can be a moderately healthy option in small portions (though not as healthy as milk and water!), since these drinks still contain high levels of excess calories. Specifically, the authors recommend four to six ounces/day for children one to six years old, and eight to twelve ounces/day for older children.

  • Sparkling or flavored water: the authors recommend that these drinks can be used to transition kids from sugar-sweetened beverages like soda and energy drinks to the healthier (and cheaper!) tap water option.

Overall, we are encouraged to see a strong message on early prevention and appreciate the clear, practical solutions outlined in the report. Learn more by reading the full report here.