RIDGEWOOD, N.J. -- The American Academy of Pediatrics considers the epidemic of childhood obesity one of the most pressing health concerns of the 21st century. One of three children in the United States is overweight or obese. This puts kids at risk for problems that were once diagnosed almost exclusively in adults, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and high cholesterol.
I am often asked by parents if there are simple ways to introduce their kids to a lifetime of eating healthfully so they can avoid adding extra weight. Here are some tips that you can use every day to help your child – and your entire family – stay on a pathway toward eating better. Don’t forgot to also encourage physical activity, especially as a family. Childhood obesity can be prevented through a combination of healthy eating and daily exercise of at least one hour per day.
1. Serve food restaurant style, not family style. Portion foods on plates and leaveserving plates on the counter.
2. Place healthy foods in easy-to-reach places.
3. Buy only what you want your family to eat. Shop in the periphery of the store, wherethe ‘real food’ hangs out, not in the middle aisles where the processed foods arelocated.
4. Eat together, and make meal time family time. No TV, phones, or computers at the table.
5. Reward good behavior with things other than food.
6. Make water and low-fat milk the beverages of choice. Soda, sports drinks, andexcessive juice have no role in a child’s diet.
7. Be a super-good role model with what you eat and drink.
8. Eat home. Know your ingredients and save money!
9. Use smaller plates. Bigger plates = bigger portions. Studies show that we eat 92% ofwhat is placed on our plates.
10. Ban the ‘clean plate club.’ Don’t force your children to finish their plates.