5 Ways You Can Fight Childhood Obesity

Childhood obesity is a real concern for the longterm health of our teens and adolescents. (photo credit: bigstockphoto.com)
Childhood obesity is a real concern for the longterm health of our teens and adolescents. (photo credit: bigstockphoto.com)

Childhood Obesity Awareness month provides all parents with a great opportunity to take small steps to help combat the obesity epidemic in our children. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC),  one third of all adolescents in America are either overweight or obese.  At last report by the CDC in 2011, here in Arizona, 11% of our high school students were obese.  There is no question that we must take action now to turn the tide.  At the same time, we, as parents, need to be cautious that we aren’t creating the conditions that make the development of eating disorders more likely in our effort to win the battle of the bulge.

This calls for a balanced approach that focuses more on healthy habits and an active lifestyle than on weight, weight management, and restrictive dieting.  As part of Childhood Obesity Awareness month, here are 5 ways you can fight childhood obesity by putting the focus on living a healthy life.

1.     Involve Everyone

Start by talking to your children about what a healthy lifestyle looks like and brainstorm some ways your family could be healthier.  Once you have some family goals, share that with the other important people in your life.  Tell your parents, siblings, and friends about the changes you are working on and ask for their support.  Let educators, child care providers, coaches, and any others in your life that could impact your family’s ability to achieve these goals know what you are working towards.

2.     Move Together

The best way to get everyone in the family to be more active is to do it together.  Make family time active time by riding bikes, taking karate, learning to kayak, or even just going for a walk as a family. By combining family time and active time, you not only make activity fun for everyone, you set an example of healthy activity for your kids to follow.

3.     Reward Yourselves

Think about how many of the rewards we give ourselves and our children that are tied to food.  Stop doing this.  Look for other ways to reward good behavior, accomplishments in school, and special achievements.  Help your children and yourself by eliminating the link between doing something good and eating a treat.

4.     Back to Basics

One of the benefits of eating dinner at the table as a family is that you tend to eat less than you would if you were eating in front of the TV.  This is true at meal times and when eating snacks.  This practice also gives everyone an opportunity to talk about healthy eating and to reconnect with each other without the impediment of distractions like TV, radio, video games, cell phones, and computers.

5.     Set a Good Example

Setting a good example is not just about eating healthy all the time.  It is also about modeling what to do when things don’t go well.  Making good food choices will help your teens see what and how much to eat.  Seeing how you handle unexpected circumstances and bad days will also show them what to do when things don’t as planned.

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