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Monday, February 22, 2016

9 Ways to Fight Childhood Obesity Starting at Home

Photo by U.S. Department of Agriculture (Flickr)

Almost one in three kids is obese. It's an epidemic that breaks my heart because I'm passionate about helping kids to be healthy. We all can do our part when we use these nine methods at home to fight obesity.

1. Start Early

Kids are more likely to develop healthy habits and tastes when they start early, so feed your babies wholesome foods. If your kids are older, it's not too late. I encourage you to implement healthy habits today!

2. Set a Positive Example

I know it's tempting to send your kids outside for exercise while you watch TV, and I used to sneak a few chips but insist that my kids eat carrots. Our children are more likely to embrace healthy habits if they see us modeling a healthy lifestyle, too. Get started when you set small but progressive goals as an entire family and measure progress every week.

3. Make Small Changes

Like any lifestyle change, you improve your chances for success if you start small. Choose to play basketball instead of watch TV after dinner, replace dessert with fruit at least once a week, and switch out white bread for a whole-grain variety. As these small changes become routine, add more healthy habits to your daily life.

4. Encourage Playtime and Exercise

An active lifestyle provides many benefits, such as reducing obesity, preventing diseases, increasing self-esteem, and lowering anxiety and stress. My girls know that we're going to walk, jog, and bike as often as possible. You, too, can jump rope during play time, walk to the park every day, or play active video games with your kids as you encourage playtime and exercise.

5. Drink Water

If your kids drink soda, they're filling up on empty and sugary calories. I challenge you to help your kids drink more water. Staying hydrated helps your kids stay fit and trim.

6. Increase Fruit and Veggie Intake

Do your kids grab sugary snacks when they're hungry? I'd rather see my girls eat fruits and veggies instead, so I stock a basket with fresh fruit on the counter, store small bags of veggies front and center in the fridge, and serve a large salad for dinner. Making healthy options more visible encourages my entire family to eat more fruits and veggies.

7. Make Favorite Dishes Healthier

I know my girls would protest if I suddenly started making their favorite lasagna with zucchini instead of pasta. But I can make healthy substitutions that yield results and don't affect the taste or quality of their favorite foods. I've decided to use low-fat milk and cheese in our mac and cheese, make meatless meals at least once a week, and stock frozen fruit pops instead of ice cream in the freezer. Every month, I add more substitutions as I make our favorite dishes healthier.

8. Eat Less

It's a simple goal, but eating less really does work to fight obesity. I serve reasonable portions, use small plates, and set snack and meal times to limit grazing. These tips all help my kids eat less.

9. Be Consistent

I know it's hard to make long-term dietary and activity changes. The effort is worth it, though, especially when you're consistent. I encourage you to commit to a healthy lifestyle for at least one month. You'll see improvements and be encouraged to make even more healthy changes as you embrace a healthy lifestyle.

Are you ready to reduce obesity? Start at home with these nine tips. I can't wait to hear what changes you make and the results you see!

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

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