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Top Tips to Prevent Childhood Obesity

doctor giving child annual well child visit checkup

Childhood obesity has become a major health issue across the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), obesity now affects 17 percent of all children and adolescents in the United States. That number is three times the rate from just one generation ago.

The CDC also states that overweight or obese preschoolers are five times as likely as normal weight classmates to be overweight or obese as adults. With obesity comes a greater risk for health issues that include heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer.

So, how can you teach children healthy habits that will prevent obesity and keep them healthy for life? Here are some tips.

  1. Activity, not exercise – Your child doesn’t need a strict exercise program, instead, emphasize playing games like tag, hide-and-go seek or jump rope.
  2. Find interesting activities – Choose activities that your child is interested in. If your child is into sports, play basketball or go swimming. If your child is into art, go on a hike to collect leaves or rocks to craft with.
  3. Annual well-child visits – To find out how often well-child visits are considered preventive for your child, check our preventive guidelines found under the Member’s Corner tab of networkhealth.com.
  4. Don’t use food as motivation – Don’t withhold or provide sweets as a reward or punishment. This will only create food-related power struggles with your child.
  5. Set a positive example – Make sure you choose healthy foods and maintain your own weight. Also, choose activities the whole family can take part in.
  6. Limit TV time – Try to limit time spent watching television or playing video games to no more than two hours a day. Also, don’t let your child eat while watching TV, it keeps a child from being aware of how much he or she is eating.
  7. Have healthy snacks available – When you buy groceries, try to replace crackers, chips and cookies with fresh fruits and vegetables.
  8. Limit sweetened beverages – Sugary drinks provide very little nutritional value in exchange for high calories.
  9. Serve appropriate portions – Children don’t need to eat as much as adults. Your child should eat until he or she is full, even if that mean there is food left on the plate.
  10. Avoid eating out – Many restaurant menus, especially fast-food restaurants, only offer options high in fat and calories.

Remember, some children grow into their extra pounds as they get taller. Focusing too intensely on your child’s eating habits can backfire and make him or her more prone to developing an eating disorder. Just try to be positive and emphasize all the great things that come with an active lifestyle and healthy eating.


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