Fighting childhood obesity should be a family affair



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Fighting childhood obesity, which is a serious concern in our country, should be looked upon as a family affair.

There are certain things parents and siblings can do to help out.

Medical experts predict that children today may be the first generation in history with a shorter life expectancy than their parents. One of the reasons for this sobering prediction is the increasing rate of childhood obesity. Obesity increases the risk of all major diseases, including Type II Diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and certain forms of cancer.

It stands to reason that childhood obesity is usually caused by eating too much and exercising too little. Therefore, filling one’s diet with healthful foods and increasing daily physical activity can help reduce obesity as well as prevent it.

With that in mind, the most effective way to treat and prevent childhood obesity is to adopt a healthier lifestyle for the whole family. The following are simple steps that your family can take to help fight the obesity epidemic:

1. Fill your home with healthful foods.

Stock your kitchen with fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products and lean protein sources. Involve your child in the grocery shopping, allowing them to choose the type of fruit, vegetables, etc., the family will eat for the week. This involvement will not only teach the child how to make healthy choices but also will increase the child’s likelihood of eating the healthy food if it is a food he or she selected. Remember to keep high-fat, sugary snacks and beverages out of the house. These foods should be saved for special occasions only.

2. Limit restaurant dining.

Fast food establishments and restaurant foods tend to have more fat, sodium and calories. According to the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, a child who eats fast food daily will result in approximately six extra pounds per year. Try to involve your child in preparing home cooked meals. Studies have shown that if a child is involved in the preparation of a food, he or she is much more likely to eat it. Further, there are many fun cookbooks on the market specifically for kids.

3. Plan daily physical activity into your family’s schedule.

Limit time the family spends around the TV or computer. Experts suspect the increase in screen time plays a major role in the increase in obesity rates and recommend setting limits such as 1-2 hours of computer/TV time per day. National guidelines recommend 150 minutes of physical activity each week for elementary children and 225 minutes for older children. To help meet these guidelines, plan physical activities such as family football or soccer games, trips to the park, ice skating, or bike riding. Active chores such as raking leaves, shoveling snow, washing the car or walking the dog count, too.

4. Be a good role model.

In terms of lifestyle practices such as diet and exercise, children absorb more of what their parents DO than what they SAY. Parents who model healthy food choices, control portion sizes by listening to hunger and full signals, make daily physical activity a priority and stress the importance of healthy lifestyle choices rather than appearance or a number on the scale will set up their child for successful weight management for a lifetime.

5. Take the Challenge.

Many of these lifestyle changes may be challenging when you are busy managing the demands of daily life. But by making these changes a fun family project with lots of support and encouragement, these lifestyle habits soon will become part of the family’s daily routine. Overall, conquering childhood obesity is truly a family affair.

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What parents make available for their children to eat can contribute to an obesity-prone home food environment, according to researchers at Kansas State University. The researchers say that when it comes to childhood obesity, a multitude of factors affect the food children consume in the home. “Many people view healthful eating and physical activity as

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A parents advocacy group has called for a boycott of entertainment and sporting venues which promote and sell junk food. The Parents Jury says they want governments to enforce healthy food guidelines across the hospitality industry. A poll conducted by the advocacy group of more than 250 of its members about children’s eating-out options has

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A Kansas State University graduate student has found a correlation between childhood obesity and asthma. Sara Rosenkranz, doctoral student in human nutrition, Manhattan, conducted research that found that healthy children with higher levels of body fat and lower levels of physical activity had greater amounts of airway narrowing after exercise. “Kids who are overweight and

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In small towns in the Midwestern United States, people who eat out often at buffets and cafeterias and who perceive their community to be unpleasant for physical activity are more likely to be obese. “It’s not that people don’t want to get physical activity or eat healthy foods, but we’ve made it difficult in many

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