Childhood Obesity: What Can Parents Do?
Friday, May 27, 2011

Healthy eating starts early!
If you’re tuned in to the latest news story, it’s impossible to miss the dramatic rise in childhood obesity. Research findings that raise concern about the issue seem to make headlines on a weekly basis. In the United States, nearly one in every three children is now overweight or obese. By making simple changes, parents can help win the war against childhood obesity and teach their kids healthy eating and exercise habits for a lifetime:

  • Provide meals and sit-down snacks at regular times. Continuous snacking or grazing can lead to overeating.
  • Eat together as a family as often as possible.
  • Stock your kitchen strategically. Buy fewer sweets and high fat packaged snack foods. Purchase more fruits and vegetables. Keep fresh produce washed, cut up, and ready to grab.
  • Don’t force kids to clean their plate or deny them second helpings. Let kids decide how much to eat from what you have chosen to provide.
  • Serve mostly milk and water to drink. Help kids understand that soda and other sweet beverages are not everyday drinks. Even fruit juices should be limited to 4 oz. per day because they provide fewer nutrients than the fruits they come from.
  • Turn off the TV. Eating in front of the TV makes it harder to notice when we’re full and increases the chances of overeating. Also, limiting screen time to 1-2 hours per day helps promote more physical activity.
  • As you gradually change your family’s eating and physical activity habits, remember to be a positive role model. If you enjoy physical activity, eat healthy foods, and avoid negative comments about your own weight, your kids will likely follow in your footsteps.

For support with promoting a healthy weight for your child, call 856-566-2098 for information about Kennedy’s “Kids in Training” program.

Source:  Heather Sylvester, MA, RD, LDN - Kennedy Health System