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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Overcoming Overweight and Obesity in Your Child

The key to keeping kids of all ages at a healthy weight is taking a whole-family approach. It's the "practice what you preach" mentality. Make eating and exercise a family affair. Get your children involved by letting them help you plan and prepare healthy meals, and take them along when you go grocery shopping, so they can learn how to make good food choices.

Avoid falling into some common food/eating behavior traps:

Don't reward children for good behavior or try to stop bad behavior with sweets or treats. Come up with other solutions to modify their behavior.
Don't maintain a clean-plate policy. Be aware of kids' hunger cues. Even babies who turn away from the bottle or breast send signals that they're full. If kids are satisfied, don't force them to continue eating. Reinforce the idea that they should only eat when they're hungry.
Don't talk about "bad foods" or completely eliminate all sweets and favorite snacks from overweight children's diets. Children may rebel and overeat these forbidden foods outside the home or sneak them in on their own.
Here are some additional recommendations for children of all ages:

Birth to age 1: In addition to it's many health benefits, breastfeeding may help prevent excessive weight gain. Though the exact mechanism is not known, breastfed babies are more able to control their own intake and follow their own internal hunger cues.
Ages 2 to 6: Start good habits early. Encourage kids' natural tendency to be active and offer children a variety of healthy foods. It may take 10 or more tries before a child will accept a new food, so don't give up.
Ages 7 to 12: Encourage children to be physically active every day, whether it's an organized sports team or a pick-up game of soccer during recess. Keep your kids active at home, too, through everyday activities like walking and playing in the yard. Let them be more involved in making good food choices.
Ages 13 to 17: Teens like fast-food, but try to steer them toward healthier choices like grilled chicken sandwiches, salads, and smaller sizes. Encourage them to be active everyday. If they are not into organized sports, suggest intramural programs, fitness classes such as yoga or pilates, or alternative sport like skateboarding, inline skating, or mountain biking.
All ages: Cut down on TV, computer, and video game time and discourage eating while watching the tube. Serve a variety of healthy foods and eat meals together as often as possible. Try to include 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day in their diet, plan healthy snacks, and encourage kids to eat breakfast every day. Encourage your children to try a variety of activities. Don't force any one sport or activity - and help them find what they enjoy and then support them in their efforts.
If you, as a parent, eat well and exercise regularly and incorporate healthy habits into your family's daily life, you're modeling a healthy lifestyle for your children that could last into adulthood. Talk to your kids about the importance of eating well and being active, but make it a family affair that will become second nature for both you and your children. Most of all, let your children know you love them - no matter what their weight - and that you want to help your child be happy and healthy.

Source: KidsHealth.org

1 comment:

Spider63 said...

Obese Children are becoming an epidemic! Where are the parents?