In the last decade, childhood obesity has been defined as an epidemic in the United States. According to the Centers of Disease Control, more than one third of children and adolescents are overweight or obese. Obese youth have a higher risk of developing diet related diseases such as cardiovascular disease including high cholesterol and high blood pressure and type II diabetes. It is critical to establish healthy eating habits from a young age and foster a positive relationship with food. The behaviors children learn associated with food will follow them into their adult life. These five tips will help prevent childhood obesity in your family.
1. Before embarking in a household food overhaul, enlist the guidance of your pediatrician and and dietician. They can tell you if your goals are realistic and give advice on healthy food choices.
2. Highlight healthy foods in the house. This means displaying fresh fruit on the table or have fresh veggies cut and ready to eat when the kids get back from school. If healthy snacks are visible, children will be more likely to eat them.
3. Eat dinner as a family. It has been proven that children who eat at the table with family members tend to have healthier weights, higher self-esteem, and do better in school.
4. Shift your focus from losing weight to being healthy. This will help to get the whole family involved to create a healthier lifestyle instead of singling one child out.
5. Get your kids in touch with all aspects of food. You can help them grow a garden, take them food shopping, and especially, teach them to cook.