The number of children in the U.S. who are overweight or obese is rising at an alarming rate – and that statistic is cause for concern. The rate of childhood obesity has more than tripled since the 1970s and today about 1 in 5 school-aged children is overweight or obese.

Childhood Obesity Leads to Serious Health Concerns

Childhood obesity not only affects a child’s self-esteem and social interactions, but it can lead to a host of health problems as children grow into adulthood, including high blood pressure and cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, joint problems and asthma. A study of 5-17 year olds found almost 60% of overweight children had at least one risk factor for heart disease and 25% had two or more risk factors.

As a parent, you can help your kids achieve or maintain a healthy weight so they have the best chance of staying healthier now and in the future.

Promoting Healthy Eating Habits

Here are 5 ways to promote healthy eating habits:

  1. Model healthy behaviors. Kids watch what their parents do, so if you make healthy food choices, your kids are more likely to do the same.
  2. Get kids involved. When kids have a say in selecting what they eat, they’re more likely to eat it. Offer healthy options and let children choose what makes it into your shopping cart. Helping with meal prep also ups kids’ interest in eating healthy food.
  3. Find new ways to make favorite dishes. Healthy eating doesn’t mean you have to eliminate the foods kids love. Just find healthier ways to make them. For example, sneak veggies into dishes like mac n’ cheese and casseroles. Lightly bread and bake chicken tenders instead of frying.
  4. Watch portion sizes. Serve meals on individual plates rather than placing large bowls or platters of food on the table. Buy snacks in single-serving bags.
  5. Make healthy foods easily available. If your child opens the fridge or pantry to see it stocked with plenty of fruits and vegetables and not many sugar-sweetened snacks, they’ll be more likely to make good choices.

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To Find a Family Doctor Near You Call (716) 706-2112

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Date Last Reviewed: July 31, 2017

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Nora Minno, RD, CDN

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