There's a lot of advice out there about helping families eat better, exercise more, and maintain a healthy lifestyle. So much advice, in fact, that sometimes the real message gets lost in all the hype.
Fortunately, Nemours Health and Prevention Services (NHPS), a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting children's health, has made it easy for you to get the facts straight. Delaware-based NHPS, like KidsHealth, is part of Nemours, one of the nation's largest health systems devoted to improving the health of children. Its formula — called 5-2-1-Almost None — helps parents and kids remember the basics of a healthy lifestyle.
The guidelines in the 5-2-1-Almost None formula have been shown to help people prevent obesity, maintain a healthy weight, and improve their overall well-being.
Read on to learn how you can incorporate some of these guidelines into your family's lifestyle.
We were all told as kids to "Eat your veggies!" And now we're telling our kids the same. And why not? Most fruits and vegetables are full of nutrients and naturally low in calories and fat, making them a healthy choice. They're also full of water and fiber, which makes them filling.
5-2-1-Almost None recommends 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), a serving size equals ½ cup (about a small handful) of chopped fruit or vegetables or a full cup of leafy vegetables, like spinach.
Here are some ways to get more servings in your kids' diet:
Screen time includes television, video games, and recreational computer use. While some screen time can be an excellent way to educate and entertain kids, too much is associated with an increased risk of becoming overweight.
5-2-1-Almost None recommends no more than 2 hours of screen time each day. For children less than 2 years of age, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends no screen time at all.
Next time your older kids complain "there's nothing to do" but watch TV, offer these alternatives:
Most kids don't spend enough time moving their bodies. At least 1 hour of physical activity is recommended every day for kids 2 years and older.
Regular physical activity helps kids to have strong and healthy hearts, bones, and muscles, and to achieve or maintain a healthy weight. Those who are active may have an increased ability to learn, feel more energetic, and sleep better.
Here's how to get the blood flowing faster and the heart pumping harder:
Besides causing cavities, sugary drinks are one of the main culprits behind the childhood obesity epidemic. Since the 1970s, soft drink consumption has more than doubled among teens and kids in the U.S. So, it's no surprise that the number of overweight and obese children has also increased.
But what's considered a "sugary drink"? You may be surprised to know that besides soda, juice drinks, lemonades, sweetened iced teas, sports drinks, and coffee drinks are also loaded with sweeteners and offer little nutritional value.
It's best to give your kids water, fat-free milk, 1% milk (for kids ages 2 and older), or 100% fruit juice. But drinking large amounts of fruit juice (more than 12 oz./day) is associated with obesity, so 100% fruit juice should be limited to one serving per day for children 1-6 years old, and no more than two servings for kids ages 7-18. As an alternative, add flavor to water by throwing in a few lemon or lime slices. Your kids will enjoy a refreshing beverage that's good for them, too.
Here are more tips for getting your kids off the sugar-packed soft drinks:
So try to make 5-2-1-Almost None part of your family's life, and share the formula with your kids. It can help prepare them to make good decisions on their own about the foods they want to eat — and that can lead to a lifetime of healthier choices.
Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: July 2012
|Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Offering nutrition information, resources, and access to registered dietitians.|
|American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.|
|Nemours Health and Prevention Services (NHPS) NHPS works with families and community partners to help kids grow up healthy, with a focus on childhood obesity prevention and emotional and behavioral health during early childhood.|
|ChooseMyPlate.gov ChooseMyPlate.gov provides practical information on how to follow the U.S. government's Dietary Guidelines for Americans. It includes resources and tools to help families lead healthier lives.|
|American Council on Exercise (ACE) ACE promotes active, healthy lifestyles by setting certification and education standards for fitness instructors and through ongoing public education about the importance of exercise.|
|U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) The USDA works to enhance the quality of life for people by supporting the production of agriculture.|
|Food Guide Pyramid Becomes a Plate Goodbye, Food Guide Pyramid! Hello, MyPlate! The USDA's divided plate is designed to make it easier to understand healthy eating.|
|MyPlate Food Guide The USDA's food guide icon is designed to make meal planning easy. Here's how to get MyPlate onto your table.|
|Go, Slow, and Whoa! A Quick Guide to Healthy Eating Looking for an easy way to eat healthier? This article provides tips on choosing the right foods - and an easy-to-follow chart to guide you.|
|Be a Fit Kid A lot of people talk about fit kids, but how do you become one? Here are five rules to live by, if you want to eat right, be active, and maintain a healthy weight.|
|Why Exercise Is Cool Exercise can help keep a kid's body fit and healthy. Learn more about what exercise can do for you in this article for kids.|
|Kids and Food: 10 Tips for Parents Here are 10 simple tips to help you raise kids who develop healthy eating habits!|
|Smart Supermarket Shopping You don't need to be a dietitian to figure out how to make healthy food choices. Before grabbing a shopping cart and heading for the aisles, read this article to make grocery shopping a snap.|
|Healthy Habits for TV, Video Games, and the Internet TV, interactive video games, and the Internet can be excellent sources of education and entertainment, but too much plugged-in time can have unhealthy side effects.|
|Are Video Games Bad for Me? You love your video games, but how much is too much? Find out in this article for kids.|
|MyPlate Food Guide The MyPlate symbol is designed to help people make smart food choices. The plate graphic, with its different food groups, is a reminder of what – and how much – we should be putting on our plates to stay healthy.|
|Healthy Eating Good nutrition and a balanced diet help kids grow up healthy. Here's how to improve nutrition and encourage smart eating habits.|
|Kids and Exercise Besides enjoying the health benefits of regular exercise, kids who are physically fit sleep better and are better able to handle physical and emotional challenges.|
|Your Child's Weight "What's the right weight for my child?" is one of the most common questions parents have. It seems like a simple one, but it's not always easy to answer.|
|5 Ways to Get Your 5 a Day You may know that you should eat 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day. Here are some tips on making that happen.|
What to expect when coming to Akron Children's
For healthcare providers and nurses
Residency & Fellowships, Medical Students, Nursing and Allied Health
For prospective employees and career-seekers
Our online community that provides inspirational stories and helpful information.