Childhood Obesity … And How to Prevent It

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One of the most important reasons for parents to get themselves feeling, looking and living their best is for the sake of their kids.

Did you know that right now over 50% of all kids are overweight? At this point, one-third of their diets consists of nothing but junk food. Add to that “portion distortion,” fast food and takeout food, lots of “dashboard dining” and inactivity, and you’ve got a recipe for unhealthy kids.

The first suggestion I give moms (who handle 90% of food tasks) is to set a good example. There simply is no better way to get the message across to kids.

Encouraging moderate portions of well-balanced meals (protein/carb/fat), variety, and eating every few hours to discourage being overly hungry are a few places to start. Kids can also be included in some of the shopping and food preparation details. When they’re included, they’ve more likely to buy into the idea of its importance.

You may also want to reconsider family style eating. It’s great to stay at the table enjoying each other’s company, but family style typically encourages seconds. If the goal is to create better habits, find ways to enjoy heaping servings of conversation, not food. A solution? Put the plates together with the food you intend to serve then bring only those plates to the table.

For exercise, encourage activity – again using yourself as an example. You can also encourage your child to find an activity they enjoy (if they like it they’ll do it). It can be something as simple as playing outside to enrolling in a sport or intramural program at school, if one’s available.

Whether in the form of better food choices, healthier habits or adding fitness to the family routine, the key is to make “lifestyle fitness” a family affair.

What’s your strategy for creating family wellness? I’d love to know, comment and share!

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    Paula Gallagher
    Paula is a highly qualified and experienced nutrition counselor on the staff at Village Green.
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December 2022