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Preventing Childhood Obesity: Strategies For A Healthy Start

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As technology and food become increasingly available, the incidence of childhood obesity is rising steadily. Too many children today are growing up at high risk for a number of serious health problems, such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. Fortunately, with a few simple strategies, families can help their children start on a lifelong path to a healthy weight.

Childhood Nutrition

The basics of healthy nutrition apply to children, just as they do to adults. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains should be the main components of any diet, and kids should limit their consumption of processed and fast foods. Reduce sugary drinks, like soda and juice, and instead opt for water as the primary drink.

Physical Activity

Getting children moving at least an hour a day can help keep weight gain in check. If possible, make physical activity a part of the family routine. Doing a family walk or bike ride together can be an enjoyable way to get your kids to increase their daily exercise. Swimming, tennis, basketball, soccer, and other sports are also great ways for children to stay active.

Healthy Portion Sizes

Serving sizes for children should be smaller than those for adults. Each portion should contain enough protein and carbohydrates for children to receive adequate nutrition, but not so much food as to lose track of what their body really needs. Avoid feeding kids on the go or in the car; eating regular meals in an environment that encourages conversation can help children recognize when they are full.

Limiting Snack Foods

Snack foods should be minimized due to their tendency to be high in unhealthy fats, added sugars, and calories. If you do have snacks, opt for fruits, nuts, and vegetable sticks. Parents should also strive to make each snack as nutritionally valuable as possible.

Meal-time Conversation

Eating should not be seen as a competition or a chore; it should be an enjoyable time for the entire family to come together, converse, and share. At mealtime, parents can encourage good nutrition by discussing healthy food choices, benefits of physical activity, and the importance of portion control.

Although it can be hard to make healthy eating and exercise a priority for children, with the right strategies, parents can help their children develop healthy lifestyle habits to last a lifetime. By implementing these strategies, children can develop healthy habits to last them a lifetime and a healthy weight for the years to come.

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