In 2009, the Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children (CLOCC), a nationally recognized leader in child obesity prevention whose influence stretches far beyond the city of Chicago, launched 5-4-3-2-1 Go!®. A comprehensive approach to improving the health of our children, 5-4-3-2-1 Go!® is a complete wellness program designed to address the many factors that go into creating a healthy child.
The 5-4-3-2-1 Go!® platform seeks to set goals and limits to inspire better health for our children. The key points of the program are:
- 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day
- 4 servings of water a day
- 3 servings of low-fat dairy a day
- 2 or less hours of screen time a day
- 1 or more hours of physical activity a day
While there are many health and wellness programs that seek to encourage better nutrition or increased physical activity in children, it is rare to create a message that incorporates nutrition, hydration, physical activity and screen time in such an effective way. In fact, I think it is the limit on screen time that is a highlight of this program.
At a time when “screen time” includes not just TV, but tablets, video games and the moments when a child gets their hands on a smart phone, it can be very difficult to monitor just how many minutes your children are exposed to entertainment through screens, yet experts agree that it is essential to do so. It is important to realize that if limits aren’t set around screen time, one can inaccurately lead themselves to believe there isn’t time to meet another very important goal of the 5-4-3-2-1 Go!® program, which is for children to exercise at least one hour a day.
Limitations on screen time and achieving activity and nutrition goals will not just happen and generally can’t be directed by children on their own. Adults must set limits and clear expectations. Some suggestions on how to do that…
- Create a daily checklist that limits screen time (this is works well for my own 6 and 9 year old children!)
- Seek camps, after school programs and more that enable physical activity goals to be met
- Fill a water bottle with 4 servings of water and encourage kids to drink from it throughout the day
- Drink a calcium rich beverage with at least 2 meals and encourage a yogurt daily
- Incorporate fruits and vegetables into all meals and snacks to meet daily goals
Note: Elementary age children may enjoy creating a color wheel to track their fruit/vegetable intake. Simply draw a circle and divide into a “pie” of at least 6 sections with each section representing a different color. As they consume fruit and vegetables, kids can color or write the name of the produce in the appropriate section. This activity encourages a colorful diet.
Make meeting nutrition goals fun and engaging with recipes that celebrate delicious ingredients and eye catching color!