Obesity is an epidemic among American adults, but it is also growing among children in our society. One in five six-year-olds is already obese, which sets them up for a myriad of additional health problems as well as emotional and psychological issues as they enter adulthood.
The Role of the Parent
As a parent, you can take a number of steps to help reduce your child’s risk of obesity. If your child is already obese, it is even more important to be proactive and help them get their health under control.
Be careful about labeling your child as obese without the advice of a physician. All children have unique body types that are completely natural. Only a healthcare professional should pronounce a child obese as he or she can examine the child’s height, weight, and medical history to make an accurate assessment.
Healthier Choices for Healthier Kids
The most important thing a parent can do to prevent obesity in their child is to instill a sense of good health rather than establishing set weight goals. By introducing the following practices within the family, you can train kids to develop habits that will serve them well into adulthood.
- Make fruits and vegetables a normal part of every meal. Exposing kids to a wide variety of fruits and vegetables helps them learn to enjoy healthier food options so they are more likely to form better eating habits as adults.
- Teach kids how to make favorite dishes healthier. For instance, modify recipes to eliminate or reduce fats and oils. When possible, throw some extra veggies into their favorite dishes.
- Encourage kids to participate in physical activities. Even if kids are eating well, physical activity is crucial. Encourage children to get involved in sports or other activities at school that allow them to get enough exercise to maintain good health.
- Exercise together as a family. For family time, choose a fun activity that gets the entire family moving. Try taking a hike, riding bikes or going swimming.
- Limit screen time. Sedentary activities are dangerous for kids that are prone to obesity, so make sure your kids are not spending all their time on the couch. Make a strict rule about how much time kids can spend in front of the TV, computer, or any other electronic device, and stick to it.
If you are still worried about your child’s weight, talk to your pediatrician at GHPA to figure out a plan for promoting good health with your kids.