are Integral in Children's Health
Childhood obesity has risen dramatically since the 1960s, according
to government statistics, with as many as 30% of children meeting
the definition of obese. Recent studies even show that parents
underestimate their child's own weight problems, especially low-income
Many adults feel miserable about their weight. In most cases their
struggles with food began in childhood. In the past 20 years,
obesity among 6 to 11 year-old children has increased 54%! There
are many health risks associated with obesity. In addition to
heart disease, obesity is associated with psychological stress
and social rejection that can cause a child much misery in the
years ahead. The good news is overweight children are not doomed
to have weight problems as adults. Parents can help their children
avoid a weight problem by following some simple guidelines listed
Establishing Good Eating Habits in Children
Create a good feeding relationship between parents and children
to minimize future problems. Parents provide the food and select
the meal time and the child chooses how much to eat. It's a process
that relies on the child's internal cues of hunger, appetite and
satiety to guide the feeding process.
Never put your child on a low calorie, deprivation diet. By restricting
calories a growing child needs, you interfere with the natural
growth process. Children who under eat have less energy and slower
rates of maturation. This does not mean the calories should be
filled with high fat foods. It's important that you lower the
dietary fat, but still maintain calories by increasing carbohydrates
such as: fruits, vegetables, cereals, breads, pasta, potatoes.
Children who eat meals do better nutritionally and are better
at liking and managing a variety of foods than children who merely
snack. Children should not be forced to join the clean plate club
or eat foods they hate. Its important that children come to the
table hungry, learn how to control hunger and wait for their meal
to be served.
Have family meals. Set a good example by eating a wide variety
of foods and providing a pleasant eating environment. Children
need to see that parents value a family mealtime. Get your child
involved in menu plans and food preparation. Make it something
fun that can be done together. Teach your child to eat slowly
which will allow them to thoroughly taste and enjoy their food
and recognize the feeling of fullness.
It's important to educate children to exercise for health and
to achieve some advertising ideal. Emphasize the need for parents
to let children find their natural body weight, which can vary
as they grow. Don't overreact if your child gains a few pounds,
because some kids naturally gain a little weight, for instance,
right before the onset of puberty or a growth spurt. Respecting
the child's developmental stages will help them learn about themselves.
To help prevent excessive weight gain and obesity before it develops,
keep exercise enjoyable.
Parents who live sedentary lifestyles may have a hard time motivating
their children to stay fit. Try to make exercise a part of your
family life by finding fun fitness activities that the whole family
can do together, such as swimming, cycling, canoeing, tennis,
nature hikes, or walks with the family dog.
a positive attitude toward exercise and physical activity - be
careful not to treat it as a punishment or a chore.
your child to come up with creative suggestions for family fitness
activities; they will be more likely to enjoy an activity if they
have a role in planning it.
attend regular fitness classes or work out at a gym may find it
fairly easy to be good fitness role models. There are plenty of
fitness programs at community centres and reputable health clubs
that offer children the opportunity to pursue other kinds of physical
activities besides sports. Light resistance training may help
children develop better proprioception and coordination in joints
try to remain openminded about children's sports. For example,
it's possible that your child may enjoy a sports activity that
is not offered at her school or that is not offered for girls.
If your child wants to try football or ice hockey, help her find
a local league or talk to school officials about starting up a
new team. Boys may prefer figure skating or ballet. Let your kids
know that no matter which sport they choose, they have your support.
if your child never belongs to a sports team, there are many other
areas of their life where they can learn important skills like
teamwork, competition, and cooperation. Clubs, school and volunteer
activities, band or music lessons, acting or debating groups,
and many other activities teach children to work and get along
Remember, that although you should share your interests with your
child, it's never a good idea to force your child into an activity
just because you once excelled in it. Many children may worry
that they won't be able to measure up to the success their parents
once enjoyed playing a particular sport. Your child needs to know
that although you would love to share your love of softball or
basketball with them, it would be equally acceptable if they would
rather play golf or tennis, or take up gymnastics or karate.
emphasize the importance of having both a healthy mind and a healthy
body, and make it clear to your child that physical activity is
an integral part of daily life. By creating a supportive environment,
acting as a positive role model, and providing your child with
a wide range of fitness choices, you can help your child develop
good habits that will last a lifetime.