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Healthy Habits Should Start Early for Children

girl vegetablesMore than two-thirds of adult Americans are obese, according to the latest studies, and many health experts feel that this begins in childhood. In the United States, the percentage of overweight or obese children has doubled over the past 30 years to 25 percent of the under-19 population. Obese children, just like adults, are at a higher risk for type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and other diseases that in years past have been considered adult diseases. Twenty five percent. Think about four children that you know, and one of them might very well be obese or on the way.

Here are some healthy habits that you can instill in your children to help them learn the actions necessary to be healthy adults.

1. Stay active. Overweight and obesity is often caused by an imbalance of food consumption and exercise. One way to help your child is to find an exercise that your he or she enjoys. Bike riding, skateboarding, karate class, soccer – all are fun activities, often done with friends, that can help your child learn to enjoy exercise.

2. Portion control is critical. A serving of Cheetos can fit into a healthy diet; an entire bag, not so much. There are fun playing cards that can give children the visuals that they need to understand portion control or you can use this portion control chart to relate serving sizes to household items, like tennis balls, a computer mouse, or dominoes.

3. Help your children learn healthy food choices. Take those favorite snacks and swap them for healthy options. Talk to them about the difference between whole grains and refined flours, processed foods and fresh whole fruits and what effect those choices can have on their bodies.

4. Make an effort to avoid rewarding behaviors and grades with treats. Avoid tying dessert to an empty plate, good grades or a clean bedroom. Also, try to move towards more fruit and less processed treats for dessert.

5. Why not try gardening? Many children are excited to try foods that they have had a hand in growing. Teaching children about their food, from seed to table, is gratifying for both parent and child.

With just a little effort, you can be well on your way to helping your child learn healthy habits that will last a lifetime!

December 16th, 2009

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