Helping today’s kids fight obesity

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Heart Research Institution

Obesity in children has doubled in just 10 years. There are now seven times more overweight or obese children than was the case a generation ago. As a result, experts predict that these children will be the first to have a shorter lifespan than their parents due to the known links between obesity and the increased risk of heart disease! Here are 20 tips to help address this problem:

1. Set a good example – research shows that the eating habits of parents are closely related to the weight of their children.

2. Turn off the TV – too much TV makes kids fat. Restrict them to an hour or so a day and get them outside playing.

3. Size of the meal – don’t overload your kids’ plates and don’t force them to eat everything once they’ve had enough. Keep meals regular with only small, healthy snacks in between.

4. Make water the main drink at home – soft drink, concentrated fruit juice and cordial are way too high in sugar.

5. Keep the junk food at bay – only allow it occasionally.

6. Careful with rewards – rewards are great when your kids excel, but don’t use food as the prize.

7. Careful with the school food – know what’s available at school and limit canteen lunches to once a week.

8. Be smart with snacks – most ‘snack foods’ are full of sugar, fat and salt.

9. Keep on the move – make life fun for your kids by taking them to the park and kicking a ball around.

10. Take the low fat option – once your children reach 2, feed them low fat milk, yoghurt and cheese.

11. Options – get your kids to try lots of different types of foods, providing plenty of healthy alternatives like cereals, fruit, yoghurts, etc.

12. Beware negative comments – never say negative things about the shape of your kids or their weight.

13. Time – everyone’s busy, but take the time to cook healthy dinners instead of getting takeaway.

14. Breastfeeding – can protect against weight problems later in life.

15. Get physical – schedule in regular exercise with your kids, allowing them to try different sports as they grow up.

16. Balance – never ban a food completely… it only makes it more desirable. (My wife and I did this with Coke and our daughter Paloma now wants it more than anything!)

17. Emotional eating – understand that kids often use food as a means of coping with difficult times, so be careful if (e.g.) they’re being teased at school, etc.

18. Long term – as with many adults, children need to lose fat slowly and it often takes a year to see results. They do have growth spurts that help them lose weight.

19. Do breakfast – overweight people tend to skip breakfast. Set up good habits right from the start.

20. Varied appetite – a child’s appetite will vary as they go through different stages such as growth spurts. Let them determine this to some degree so they understand how much food is enough.

By Guy Leech, Information Sourced from http://www.hri.org.au/page.aspx?pid=423

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