Childhood obesity can lead to short- and long-term health problems— such as high blood pressure and diabetes— that can start at an early age. We all want the best for our children. But today, it’s not easy to avoid many unhealthy eating and activity habits that can make our kids weigh more than they should. For example, sweetened drinks, sugary cereals, high-fat snacks and fast foods add extra calories. Those extra calories do not burn off if your child spends hours each day in front of the television or computer rather than being active. It also means your child is not toning his or her most important muscle: the heart.
Parents can play an important role in helping their kids adopt heart-healthy habits early in life. One of the best ways to do that is to set a heart-healthy example. Children copy what mom and dad do. Here are some tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics that you and your family can use to fight childhood and/or teen obesity.
1 Fast food, takeout and eating out can contribute extra calories if the items you choose are high in fat; are made with unhealthy cooking methods, such as deep frying; come in extra large portions; or have rich sauces and dressings. Also, try to avoid multi-tasking and eating, which means walking around the mall while sipping a milkshake or munching on a bag of fries. Just because you’re walking as you’re eating, doesn’t mean you burn all the calories you take in.
2 Avoid sugar-sweetened drinks, including sodas, sweetened teas, smoothies and shakes, special waters and even juices that are high in calories. Try plain water or low- or non-fat milk. If your child wants chocolate milk on occasion, just add a little syrup or powder, not a big spoonful. Make a sugary drink a once-a-week special treat, not a daily staple. Get rid of soda in your fridge, as it has no health value, but can pack on the calories.