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How can we fight childhood obesity?

The best ways to prevent childhood obesity are to provide your kids with healthy, nutritious meals, encourage plenty of regular physical activity and limit the amount of time they spend doing sedentary activities, like watching TV or playing video games. Of course, you should always talk to your children's healthcare provider for additional recommendations.

It's also a good idea to lead by example -- if your kids see you adopting healthy habits, they're more likely to follow suit. That's why it may be a good idea to make healthy eating and physical activity part of your family's routine.

Involve your kids in the grocery shopping and meal preparation and plan family activities that get you all moving, like taking a bike ride or signing up for family swim lessons. That way, everyone benefits and no one feels singled out.

Studies have shown that overweight parents often have overweight children. The health risks associated with being overweight are passed down through generations.

Some tips to help your children reduce their risk for becoming obese are exercising through play and sports, making meal time “family time” by enlisting the help of kids in the kitchen and filling meals with colorful vegetables and lean meats, stopping negative self-talk, being cognitive of what you say in front of your children, and making family time together active.

Parents and caregivers can use the following strategies to help prevent childhood obesity and keep kids healthy:

  • Follow the advice of the American Academy of Pediatrics and limit media time for kids to no more than one to two hours of quality programming per day whether at home, school or child care.
  • Visit the child care centers to see if they serve healthier foods and drinks and limit TV and video time.
  • Work with schools to limit foods and drinks with added sugars, fat and salt that can be purchased outside the school lunch program.
  • Provide plenty of fruits and vegetables, limit foods high in fat and sugars and prepare healthier foods at family meals.
  • Serve your family water instead of drinks with added sugars.
  • Make sure your child gets physical activity each day.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.