CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – One in three American kids and teens are overweight or obese.
The prevalence of obesity in children tripled from 1971 to 2011. So, what can parents do to help their kids reach and maintain a healthy weight?
As a parent you can’t control exactly what your children eat or how much they eat. All you can do is set a good example by eating well yourself, buy healthy foods so they make better choices at home, and have family meals together.
In addition, avoid rewarding your children with sweets. Instead of baking with your children, cook meals together. If time is tight, even eating 1 or 2 meals together makes a difference.
Researchers at the University of Minnesota and Columbia University looked at 10 years of data. They found that 1 or 2 family meals a week significantly reduced a child’s risk of becoming overweight.
The researchers say that family meals provide opportunities for emotional connections among family members. The food is more likely to be healthful. At meals, teens may see healthy eating habits in the parents and will follow suit.
If you are concerned about your child’s weight, generally, don’t say anything unless your child brings it up. Saying something may create closet eaters or make the kitchen a battlefield. Instead, set a good example and make nutritious food available.