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Give Kids a Head Start on Good Health

Toni Ann DiSantis

Take a stand against childhood obesity.

It’s hard for parents to say no to their kids. Many adults themselves struggle to be healthy. But when children’s health is on the line, adults have to help kids make the right choices. Doing so can prevent serious problems such as childhood obesity.  In order to keep kids fit in this high-calorie, high-tech world, parents need to be role models. Eat well and move more, and your kids are likely to do the same. They can better enjoy their childhood and be carefree and happy – the way kids ought to be.

Why worry about obesity?

It has become widespread among American children and puts them at risk for:

  • Heart disease.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Type 2 diabetes.
  • Certain cancers.
  • Depression and low self-esteem.
  • Obese kids are also likely to become obese adults. That means they would be at risk for various health problems for many years.

 

How did this happen?

A young person’s health depends on a lot of factors. But much of the current obesity problem can be tied to changes in our society:

  • Kids aren’t as active and don’t have as many options for playing sports.
  • Kids have more digital types of entertainment now. They’re often glued to a computer, mobile device or TV.
  • Healthy, affordable food isn’t easy to find.
  • Food portions at home and at restaurants are bigger than ever.

Can parents do something? You bet. Here are some ways to help keep kids healthy:

 

  • Limit TV, computer and video games to less than two hours a day. It’s easier to do this when kids don’t have TVs in their rooms.
  • Help your kids get active for one hour each day. Try to make it as routine as sleeping and eating.
  • Plan your menu. It’s key to healthy eating. Following through with the plan is vital.
  • Start the day with a healthy breakfast. Try whole-grain cereal or toast, low-fat milk, oatmeal, eggs or fruit.

 

Learn more about portion size at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website at nhlbi.nih.gov.