Fighting Childhood Obesity

by Catherine Rein
(last updated May 8, 2009)

Millions of children in this country are at risk of childhood obesity. We can and should do more to address this epidemic. Our cultural exposure, especially in the U.S., has increasingly been overwhelmed with food. Whether through advertisements for fast food or diet treatments, we are constantly bombarded with images of food.

Our environment is also increasingly sedative, with few safe opportunities for children to pursue physical activity. Take every opportunity to be physically active with your kids, increase the opportunities available for you and your children to be active, whether it's playing in the park or walking to school.

There are many other things we as parents can do to help our children avoid being overweight. Here are some of the main areas of consideration:

  • Physical Education. You should try to be physically active at least 30 minutes each day (adults) or 60 minutes a day (children). Parents can help model physical activity for their children and provide a safe environment for children to play in. You should reduce the amount of time spent watching TV or playing video games, these sedentary activities should amount to less than 3 hours a day.
  • Nutritional Food Options. You should avoid using food as a reward for your children's behavior. Be sure to stock the refrigerator with plenty of low-fat milk, fresh fruit and vegetables instead of soft drinks or snacks that are high in calories or added sugar.
  • Education. You should remind your children that they are loved and appreciated no matter what their weight. Parents should give overweight kids the support and encouragement they need and cut back on the criticism. Help your children build a healthy body image and they will have a lifetime free of eating disorders and high self-esteem.

Children suffering from obesity are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure and diabetes as well as many other health problems that can last for the rest of their lives. Being overweight as a child also makes it much more difficult to maintain a healthy weight as an adult.

Above all be a good role model for your children. When they see their parents eating healthy foods and enjoying fun physical activity, they will be more likely to live healthy lives themselves. Model a healthy body image and healthy mindset about weight for your children. These are keys to avoiding eating disorders in the future. Teach your children to stay away from the scale and enjoy healthy food and physical activity. Instruct kids on the ways to strengthen their body and live fulfilling lives.

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