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How to Fight Childhood Obesity In Your Family

May 25th, 2012

childhood obesityFor the past twenty years, obesity in the United States has been on the rise. The numbers remain high as we make poor lifestyle choices such as overeating and staying inactive. Obesity leads to a number of health risks including heart disease, stroke, and certain types of cancer. Another problem obesity brings is that children pick-up their parents unhealthy habits.

We are now seeing a rise in childhood obesity, nearly tripling over the last 30 years. But there’s hope. There are many steps we can take to prevent childhood obesity, and help children learn how to eat right and stay active. We should take part in reversing this trend so the future generations can live healthier. Here are some tips to help your children avoid obesity:

1. Increase physical activity. The rise of childhood obesity can be attributed to reduced activity. Encourage children to spend more time outside to run and play. Limit your child’s TV time and don’t let them play video games. Sitting for long periods isn’t healthy for the mind and body. Let them experience what nature has to offer and nurture their creativity. Introduce your children to board games and have family game nights instead. This will not only increase activity but will also strengthen family ties.

2. Keep fast food at bay. Many parents choose fast food because it’s convenient and inexpensive. However, it’s very high in sugar, sodium, saturated fat, and other unhealthy ingredients. Fast food can be fine on occasion and sometimes you won’t have any other choice. But letting your children eat fast food more than once a week can cause a lot of problems. If your busy schedule prevents you from preparing healthy meals, try to make them in advance on weekends. You can heat them up for your children when needed instead of feeding them cheeseburgers and fries.

3. Stay healthy as a family. Parents should lead by example. Family members should have a collective goal when they want to eat healthy and get into shape. Your children won’t follow any of your health advice if they see you chow down a bag of chips every night. Involve your children when preparing healthy meals this way they can easily see how important a nutritious meal is. The entire family can have fun getting healthy and share a common goal.

4. Make sure children get enough sleep. Not having enough sleep is connected to obesity in children and adults alike. A tired child will burn less calories throughout the day. Cortisol, a hormone that stimulates appetite is elevated in children who do not get enough sleep. Doctors recommend ten hours of sleep for older kids and eight hours for teens.

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