Preventing childhood obesity has been in the news a lot lately and it reminds me of a conversation I once had with friends about their children getting involved in sports. My friends were the parents of three school age children that wanted to play sports and dad was all for it but mom was hesitant. All she could see was sprained ankles and broken bones from her babies playing sports. Ironically it didn't help that she worked in the medical field. You would think that mom would know about the many health benefits, like preventing childhood obesity, as a result of being active. But a mothers protective instinct was winning this battle.

Preventing childhood obesity is a lifestyle more than just a singular focus in a child's life. A lifestyle focused on preventing childhood obesity has to start with the parents attitude. When parents realize that children need to be encouraged to eat a healthy diet and get plenty of exercise, they can set the example and make this a normal lifestyle for their children. There are no guarantees that diet and exercise will prevent childhood obesity in every situation. Some people are going to be overweight regardless. These people are the exception to the rule but most childhood obesity can be overcome through a healthy diet and exercise.

Another lifestyle focus has to be on how much time children get to spend watching television, playing video games and surfing the web. In some ways giving our children video games, computers and their own televisions has turned out to hurt them more than it benefits them. Having these items encourages our children to be sedentary and at risk for weight gain. It's in everyone's best interest when parents set some time guidelines for surfing the web, playing video games and watching television.

I got invited into the discussion that my friends were having about their children playing sports and I was able to share my take on it. I was able to share how important I believe it is for children to be involved in organized sports because they get opportunities to learn and practice certain life skills. It's easy to see how many people would say "it's just a game" but sports are so much more than just games. Of the many life skills that can be learned from playing sports I can list teamwork, leadership, discipline and order to name just a few. All of these characteristics can be applied to most if not all areas of life. Once I explained the many benefits of playing youth sports, the mother agreed that having her children involved in sports might not be such a bad idea after all. The children got the chance to get involved in organized sports and excelled at it. I believe their participation in sports was one of the things that helped prevent childhood obesity in those children.