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Family Times
Wednesday, March 17, 2010 • Posted March 17, 2010

Simple Routines Can Help Young Children Maintain a Healthy Weight

This is more research that came from my preparation for the Headstart parent program!

Three simple routines can help young children maintain a healthy weight. Recent research published in the March 2010 issue of Pediatrics suggests that preschool children who eat their dinner meal as a family, get at least 10 1/2 hours of sleep each night, and limit screen-time to two hours or less per day were less likely to be obese than other children.

"Young children who eat meals prepared at home, in accordance to MyPyramid for Preschoolers, have a better diet quality and are more likely to eat sensible portions sizes when eating out," said Dr. Robinson, Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Specialist with the Texas AgriLife Extension Service. Family meals also allow for role modeling and parent child discussion time about the role of food in children’s growth and health.

Both adults and children can benefit from a good night’s sleep.

Emerging research suggests that adequate sleep is important to not only maintaining health but optimal weight as well for both adults and children. While the relationship between healthful weight and adequate sleep may remain elusive - getting a good night’s sleep is a sound practice for everyone. The sleep recommendation for preschoolers is at least 10 1/2 hours each night.

Children who limit their screen time (time spent watching TV, DVD, computer and playing sedentary video games) are less likely to be overweight than other young children who get more screen time. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that young children limit their screen time to no more than two hours per day.

These three simple house rules can make a big difference to your child’s health:

* enjoying dinner as a family affair,

* getting a good night’s sleep, and

* limiting screen time.

To learn more about MyPyramid for Preschoolers visit http://www.mypyramid.gov/preschoolers/index.html. The MyPyramid has helpful information for any age group, not just preschoolers.

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