How to Prevent Childhood Obesity

     To understand how to prevent childhood obesity and really help your overweight child lose fat you're going to have be determined and consistent.

     Well meaning doctors say to cut down on portions and kids will outgrow their childhood fat. But will they? Childhood obesity has risen dramatically just in the past decade. So does this wait and see attitude work?

     Kids have to learn about which foods raise their blood sugar and how to eat low glycemic, whole grain foods, fresh fruits and vegetables, good quality protein and healthy fats. They have to hear what happens if they don't. They are surrounded with high fructose corn syrup and sugar laden products everywhere, in school vending machines, in the stores, on television.

      Are schools teaching nutrition? Nope. With few exceptions, nutrition and healthy eating are not a part of education curriculum. Look for schools that grow gardens, teach kids to cook and have a strong physical education program. Stay away from the ones with vending machines on campus if possible.

     Of course kids get hooked on sugar. It's highly addictive and too much is toxic. When kids get wired and their blood sugar is skyrocketing, it's not so simple anymore because they will be resisting your intervention. And it's just because temptation IS everywhere they need your support!

     Nobody says this is easy especially when your child is fat and getting fatter. But it's not impossible. There are many families with slender adults and fat kids and that's because so much of what your kids are exposed to is not within your control. So here's how to prevent childhood obesity in YOUR child even if you are skinny and don't need to watch your weight:

  • Buy only whole fruit instead of juices and introduce your kids to the joys of drinking filtered water...lots of it. There are too many calories in a glass of fruit juice. No sweet drinks and definitely no sodas. You will save on dental bills and they need the fiber. Buy a cheap juicer or strong blender and make vegetable juices. You will improve your kids' nutrition a thousand times. The secret to them drinking the juice is to put either one apple in it or a couple of tomatoes...delicious.
  • Buy mostly fruits and vegetables, whole grains, raw seeds, nuts, eggs and some animal protein. Teach your kids how to cook and plan your meals around what produce is in season. If you need to learn to cook take a class or buy a good cookbook and learn together. They will learn how to eat and prepare food in a healthy way from you (or from a teacher.)
  • Respect your child's experience. Children MUST learn when they are growing up to have that "inner intuition" about their bodily needs. That means how much to eat, when they are full and trusting their own instincts. No matter how much we are tempted to do so we have to refrain from trying to control our kids' eating at meal time. Serve healthy foods and then let them choose.
  • Teach by example. Encourage them to take small portions (a hand size is a reasonable portion) by taking small portions yourself. When you're finished, rest a few minutes before deciding whether you need more. It takes a few minutes for your brain to get the message that your stomach is full. If you offer fruit at the end of a meal you and your family probably won't need seconds. Kids learn to self regulate by watching you and experiencing it for themselves.
  • Don't cave in. Since kids generally don't buy that eating food that's bad for them will make much difference, explain that adults are only as healthy as the food they ate when they were kids. And then just say that your food dollars have to be spent on foods that build your health. Doctors are expensive. Period. If kids understand that you are supporting their good health because you love them they won't feel deprived, they'll feel cared for.
  • Be physically active as a family. If you can't afford bicycles, take hikes or play ball. There are many public parks and playgrounds that are free and have basketball courts and baseball diamonds. Once you start a physical activity it becomes self perpetuating because exercise is addictive in a good way. You will not have to worry about how to prevent childhood obesity of you and your kids get addicted to something physical you love to do!
  • Lobby your child's school to include physical education. In our schools today physical education is not even always a requirement as it once was. In the 1960s President Kennedy's physical fitness program required all school age children to meet endurance and stamina goals. These national standards drove fitness goals in schools across America. There hasn’t been a nationwide effort to engage all children in physical fitness since then. And look where the obesity statistics are at. The higher income families make sure they’re kids are in sports activities. But what about those who can’t afford them? Insist on the schools providing physical fitness.
  • Limit your children's time in front of the television or a computer screen. Require an hour of exercise to go along with homework requirements. Make television viewing or recreational computer use a reward for good grades or cooking a meal or doing other kitchen chores.
  • Gardens are the perfect solution to how to prevent childhood obesity for families and schools! If you can't grow one, visit one. Everyone needs to learn where their food comes from and how to grow it.

     How to prevent childhood obesity is to inspire ourselves and our children to reconnect with our health in the kitchen.   If you don't have time to cook and no interest, then make sure your kids get a basic education in nutrition either from a class or by buying them age appropriate books about cooking.     They will never forget it.

     If we are going to turn the childhood obesity statistics around we will need to create new, healthy lifestyles eating in a more healthy way and stepping up our own physical activity and that of our kids.    Remember that kids learn mostly from how you live not what you say.

     Can you be sure that your kids never drink sodas or eat the occasional french fries and hamburger from Carl's Junior? Heck no but if you make an effort to do most of what is recommended above you will have laid down the healthy habits that will make the difference for them of whether they are healthy adults or not.  That's huge.  They may run off the rails in high school when they see how many of their peers eat but how do you think they'll eat when they are mature adults?

     They come back to their roots because they've got healthy instincts. How to prevent childhood obesity is to know what good food is because you are growing up with it.



Childhood Obesity Facts

One doctor speaks out about why kids get fat these days and what do do.




Return from How to Prevent Childhood Obesity to Definition of Obesity.

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