Childhood obesity affects up to 25 percent of American children and teens and children who are obese are at least 70 percent more likely to be obese as adults. Childhood obesity can cause problems with high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, and an increased risk of diabetes, not to mention low self-esteem.
The solution may seem simple: eat healthy food and add more physical activity to your child’s daily routine. However, it can be extremely tough to manage. Childhood obesity is most effectively treated and prevented when the entire family adopts healthier habits. By encouraging the whole family to get healthier, you are supporting your child instead of singling him or her out. Consider these helpful hints:
Create a Healthy and Active Environment
1. Healthy Choices: Stock the fridge with a lot of healthy food and snacks, such as whole-grain choices, fresh produce, and milk. Get rid of the junk food and soda.
2. Behavioral Changes Help: Serving water or milk at dinner instead of soda, sitting at a table instead of around the TV, eating dinner at a regular time—these changes are small but can break old habits and make a real difference. Make small decisions to increase the activity in your day.
3. Beware of the TV: studies have shown that TV time directly correlates with snacking. Instead, encourage your child to be active, or work on a project that engages his or her hands so they are less likely to snack.
4. Slow Down the Consumption: Encourage your child to eat slowly and engage them in discussion during mealtime. Serve them smaller portions, and if they are old enough, don’t cut their food for them.
5. Food as Nutrition, Not Reward: Don’t make food a source of reward or punishment. Allow your child to stop eating when they are no longer hungry and never force them to finish their plate.
6. Engage Them in Physical Activity Outside of the Home: Enroll your child in a physical activity they might enjoy, such as gymnastics, dance, or martial arts. Encourage him to join a school team or play basketball with his friends.
7. Be a Good Role Model: Create a healthy lifestyle, not just a goal for your child’s weight. There are old habits to break and good habits to establish—acting as a role model for your child is the most effective way to help him or her make changes that last.