It's no secret that childhood obesity is on the rise. While not every child is affected, too many of them are and it's causing families plenty of heartache, discouragement, missed memories and medical bills. Thankfully the ins and outs of preventing childhood obesity don't have to be a secret either. While the measures each individual family will have to take will vary, here are four great steps to get any family started.
1. Establish Healthy Eating Habits from an Early Age
When it comes to establishing good eating habits, earlier is better. You can't feed a child nothing but chicken nuggets, hot dogs and soda for the first four years of their life and expect them to suddenly like vegetables! While dealing with a picky toddler can be time-consuming and exhausting, it is worth every bit of effort to teach your children to like healthy fruits and vegetables from an early age.
2. Avoid Negative Food Associations
Of course, maintaining a healthy weight isn't as easy as simply learning to like the right things. Many times the battle has more to do with the reasons why we are eating. Do you offer food as a bribe or reward? Do you model stress eating or talk about your latest diets in front of your children? If so, you may be setting your children up for a lifetime of worries about food. Instead, work hard to establish food's rightful place in your life as a way of nourishing your body and providing the fuel you need on a daily basis.
3. Exercise Together as a Family
In addition to eating right, you also have to exercise too. Thankfully, exercise can be a ton of fun! Sign your children up for gymnastics, cheerleading or sports. Take them to the park every chance you get. Install a swing set in your backyard and send them out to play. Turn off the TV and put away the video games. Don't just stop there, however. Make exercise a family activity and you're all much more likely to succeed.
4. Emphasize Health Over Size
While bikini season may be a great motivator for grown women to lose weight, appearances shouldn't be what motivate your children to eat right and exercise. Instead of discussing your child's weight and appearances, talk instead about how important it is to be healthy. When the emphasis is health instead of size, your children can move forward confidently in the direction of their goals.
Childhood obesity may be caused by a number of factors, but the best way to beat it is usually quite simple. Teach your children healthy habits from an early age and make sure you get involved too. This will skyrocket your children's chances for success!