When it comes to helping our children get and stay healthy, challenges abound. Not only is there the potential for a personality conflict, but the availability of resources can make the task feel overwhelming. From articles and blogs, to expert advice and apps, it’s hard to know which resources are worth your time and your child’s attention. With this in mind, here are 5 modern-day digital resources worthy of both, that can help promote positive lifestyle changes for children:
- Internet Calculators: Body Mass Index (BMI) is a reliable indicator of body fat levels for most children and teens, and offers an inexpensive and easy-to-perform method of screening for weight categories that may lead to health problems. For children and teens, BMI is age- and sex-specific. A BMI Calculator for Children and Teens ages 2-19 years old is freely available at the Centers for Disease Control website. The Children’s Energy (Calories) Needs Calculator, developed by Baylor College of Medicine, is another useful online tool that calculates how many calories a child needs each day, based on height/weight/physical activity level.
- APPs: There are a number of sound apps available at iTunes to help motivate kids to live healthy. One such app titled “The “Kids Making Healthy Choices” is based on, and includes, both the Boy and Girl Editions of the award-winning illustrated children’s book “Making Healthy Choices—A Story to Inspire Fit, Weight-Wise Kids.” Intended to foster kids’ health and impede the childhood obesity epidemic, this app is for children who can access the story and fun activity sheets through the app’s eReader, as well as parents, caregivers, educators, and pediatricians who benefit from additional tools and information resources bundled in the app, including discussion questions, recipes and topical link lists. Not just for obese/overweight children, this app promotes healthy living for all kids as well as tolerance among peers to lessen the incidence of bullying. Other notable APPs include “Healthy Eating, Healthy You” featuring exclusive healthy recipes developed by chefs at MGM Resorts; “Child Obesity Guide” providing caregivers with assessment and planning tools; and “Nutrition and Healthy Eating” that provides fun science-based learning games for preschoolers and kindergarteners.
- Online Quizzes: Childhood obesity is a growing epidemic around the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that, globally, 22 million kids under the age of 5 are overweight, and the statistics are equally frightening for adolescents, tweens, and teens. Societies must get educated on the topic in order to take effective action. While you have heard much about “childhood obesity,” how much do you really know? Find out with a quick and free quiz that’s available at the Discovery Health website. Another online quiz developed by Professor Diane Ward at the University of North Carolina School of Public Health titled “Is your child at risk of becoming overweight?” is equally helpful for keeping parents well-informed.
- Interactive Games: Online games are a fun and easy way to engage kids while also teaching them health principles. Kidnetic, which is produced by Kraft Foods, is one great interactive website featuring a myriad of cool games, scavenger hunts, challenges, and even a cool “Move Mixer” dance designer. The CDC’s BAM! Body and Mind website also offers online games that teach kids about the body and mind.
- Videos: The Internet is rife with helpful videos that pertain to childhood obesity. There are educational and informative videos like those detailing tactical strategies to help children get healthy, including initiatives spearheaded by First Lady Michelle Obama. You can also find moving and inspirational documentaries showcasing kids who have changed their lives for the better through good nutrition and fitness. Videos are an extremely powerful tool that can provide instant, on-the-spot, on-demand motivation.
Guest Author: Kelli Calabrese, a leading fitness, nutrition and lifestyle coach for almost 3 decades, has owned and operated fitness centers and corporate programs, was the lead fitness expert for eDiets, and edited fitness professional magazines. She speaks internationally and is an executive with Isagenix. Kelli has a heart for helping people realize their full physical potential and live their best lives.