Busy schedules, readily available fast food, cell phones, tablets, TVs. There are many obstacles to living healthy, active lives. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity affects 19.7% of children and adolescents in the United States. This is three times the rate from just one generation ago. But there are ways to turn these numbers around: Remember the 5-2-1-0 rule.
What does 5-2-1-0 mean?
5-2-1-0 is an easy-to-remember set of guidelines for healthy, active living. The plan spells out four healthy behaviors that children and families should achieve every day. This includes eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and being physically active while limiting screen time and sugar-filled beverages.
5 servings or more of fruits and vegetables
Eating healthy is important at every age—especially during childhood. Since kids are more likely to eat foods that they see a parent eating and enjoying, be sure to set a good example. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggests filling half your plate with whole fruits and vegetables.
To help get your kids to eat more fruits and veggies:
- Keep ready-to-eat fruits and raw veggies in the refrigerator for a quick snack.
- Let kids choose between two options.
- Have kids help grow, shop for and/or prepare a snack/meal.
- Pick out a vegetable that the family has not tried and find a new recipe.
For tasty recipes, approved by Gundersen registered dieticians, visit our Health & Wellness site.
2 hours or less of screen time
Set time limits on video games, tablets, TV and computers, and enforce those limits. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends:
- Less than two hours per day of screen time for children and adolescents 2 years of age and older
- No screen time for children under age 2
Instead, offer healthy, active alternatives, which leads us to...
1 hour or more of physical activity
As a parent or caregiver, you can play a big role in preventing childhood obesity by encouraging regular physical activity and avoiding sedentary activities. When children see you being physically active and having fun, they are more likely to participate and establish healthy, lifelong habits, too.
- Play catch, tag or badminton.
- Go biking or roller skating.
- See if you still have the moves—break out the jump ropes and hula hoops.
- Take a walk or a hike.
Here are more ideas for keeping kids active.
0 sweetened drinks
Sodas, juices, sports drinks, flavored milk—even beverages labeled "no added sugar" or "all natural"—may contain up to 60+ grams of sugar. That's equal to about 15 teaspoons of sugar! Instead, try these healthier drink options:
- Use natural fruit to add flavor to water, tea or smoothies.
- Drink plain water—it's inexpensive (or free!), readily available and has many health benefits.
Learn more about cutting down on sugar and artificial sweeteners.
Where do 5-2-1-0 recommendations come from?
5-2-1-0 guidelines to improve child health are recommended by groups like the American Academy of Pediatrics, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and National Association for Sport and Physical Education.
If you have questions, talk to your child’s primary care provider.