Learning how to prevent obesity in your children

Eating healthy foods and living well

In the United States, millions of children are considered obese. According to The National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention, obese children are at a greater risk for sleep apnea, poor self-esteem and bone and joint problems. The government is now working on programs to stop the trend of childhood obesity; despite this fact, it is stressed by experts that prevention always starts at home.

Nowadays, hundreds of ads for unhealthy foods are seen everywhere by children. For this reason, Kim Beach, president of Junior League of Gainesville, Florida, said that children need to be empowered by the parent and teachers so that they can make healthy food choices. For children to make positive choices for their own health, adults should provide them with enough information. This can be the start in fighting childhood obesity.

Simplifying grocery list is the first step to a healthy home and in fighting childhood obesity. A pediatrician dietician at Seattle Children’s Hospital named Mary Jones Verbovski said that foods that have hydrogenated oil and high fructose corn syrup should be avoided. According to Verbovski, the more shelf-friendly and preserved a food/item is, the more it is expected to have higher sodium, sugar and fat content. These three: sodium, sugar and fat are the ingredients to moderate in your daily foods.

Recommended by Verbovski are fresh meats, dairy and produce. In addition, more nutrients, vitamins and minerals are present in naturally colored foods. Matt Mallard, a personal trainer at Gainesville Health fitness said that healthy eating starts at farmers market and local grocers. According to him, foods that cannot sit on a grocery store shelf unrefrigerated are not good for your body.

The best role models for children are their parents. Parent enjoying the process of cooking, explaining and translating that to their kids and preparing meal for the family are some of the best ways that parents can do to inform and influence their children to choose healthy food choices. Verovski also said that when children grow up with loving and positive environment around cooking and eating meals together, children may also incorporate the same into their own lives and, as they grow, to their families as well.

Kim Beach said that the key behind the Kids in the Kitchen program is inviting kids in the kitchen to help with the simpler tasks when the stress level in the kitchen is lower. This program is used by Junior Leagues to teach children and their families about the importance of healthy eating. This program helps in empowering the youth to assume responsibility especially in choosing the best and healthiest food for their own health.

Verbovski recommends that children be encouraged to choose the vegetables, read the recipe and stir the ingredients when cooking. Inviting kids to participate in the kitchen also helps the parents as well by simply letting the kids do simple work. Furthermore, parents will also get to know and understand what kinds of food their children like and what their children may be willing to try.

Imparting nutritional facts to the children is also important. It should be done in a way that the children will easily understand and remember them. According to Nancy Walsh, a volunteer, one of the many ways to do this is by allowing and keeping the kids participation in the kitchen from start to finish. This way, the kids will also learn nutritional and exercise tips and they will eventually be conscious on how to fight obesity. While encouraging good discipline and moderation, simple kitchen activities must be fun to the kids as well. These kitchen activities, regardless of how simple they may be should make the kids feel that it is fun and enjoyable and not tiring and boring work or chore.