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Childhood Obesity: 5 Tips for Parents

tips to fight childhood obesity

As a parent, you play the leading role in how your children relate to food and exercise. The following 5 tips will help you steer your children towards happy, healthy lifestyles.

Avoid negativity

Make sure that you are not revealing negative comments about yourself in front of your daughter or son. Many individuals who struggle with weight issues have a less than ideal body image and often repeat negative self-talk out loud. Standing in front of the mirror and saying that you hate something about your body will teach your children how they should think and feel about their bodies. Focus on positive attributes that you're proud of, both in yourself and in your children.

Be physically active

Integrate healthy activity into your day without making it feel like a chore. Children naturally like to run and play. Make an effort to play outside together on a daily basis. Go on treasure hunts for nature items around the neighborhood, ride bikes to the park, swim, and play freeze tag. Never bring up burning calories or exercising to lose weight. Instead, mention how good it feels to move your body, and have fun.

Learn what you should and shouldn’t control

Ellyn Satter, an author and expert on child feeding, has said parents should be responsible for the type of food that is presented to the child, and when and where it is offered. Children are responsible for whether or not they choose to eat it, and how much. Offering structured, healthy meals and snacks in a peaceful environment is ideal. Forcing your child to eat them is not. The goal is to develop an internal sense of conscious eating in your child.

Avoid the "good food, bad food" trap

Offer a large variety of food. Center your family’s eating habits on healthy items, but include treats and favorite foods in moderation. You are one of your children’s most important role models. By sitting down and enjoying a satisfying and nutritious meal together, you are shaping eating preferences in a positive way.

Don’t focus on weight loss

The goal for overweight children is to reduce weight gain as he or she grows and develops. If you feel your children need to lose weight, consult your doctor. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warn that children and teens should not be put on a weight loss regimen without the consultation and supervision of a healthcare professional.

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