10 Ways to Prevent Childhood Obesity

10 Ways to Prevent Childhood Obesity

10 Ways to Prevent Childhood Obesity

Lee esto en Español Nourishing your child is one of the most important things you can do as a parent. Kids are never too young to learn about healthy foods and good eating habits. In fact, the path to childhood obesity can begin in infancy. You have the power to prevent childhood obesity by teaching your kids about healthy habits.

It may sound simple, but the key to preventing childhood obesity is to manage the number of calories consumed and burned each day.  That may be easier said than done.

Whether your child is overweight or not, use these tips to instill good eating habits that can last a lifetime.

Let Your Kids Lead. 
Don't just tell your kids how and what to eat. Kids tend to embrace change when they have a say in it. Empower them to make their own healthy choices. One easy way is to encourage them to explore the healthy eating activities that are part of the kid-led movement empower MEleaving site icon

Make Family Dinners a Priority. 
Kids who sit down with their families several nights a week are more likely to adopt healthy eating habits. They also do better in school.

Make Food Fun. 
Involve your children in meal planning, grocery shopping and cooking. Give your child several healthy menu options, then let your child take it from there. Make it fun and creative. Use pretzels, fresh fruits and veggies to make food faces or sculptures.

Follow the 5-2-1-0 Rule. 
It’s a simple formula endorsed by the Childhood Obesity Foundation that every parent can follow to inspire kids to eat right and exercise more. Here’s how it works:

5 – Eat at least 5 servings of fruits and veggies per day
2 – Limit screen time to less than 2 hours a day
1 – Spend at least 1 hour per day doing something active
0 – Cut out all sweetened drinks and fill their glasses with water or low-fat milk

Be a Role Model. 
When you make an effort to eat right and exercise, your kids will notice. Don’t just tell your kids to eat healthy snacks, make yours healthy, too.

Avoid Portion Distortion.
Food portions have become supersized. We often fill our plates with far more food and calories than we really need. Use smaller plates and bowls.

Make School Healthy. 
Your child spends much of the day at school. Talk to your principal or Parent-Teacher Organization about ways the school can become a healthier environment. Learn more about the Healthy Schools Program leaving site icon from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.

Ask for Help. 
Talk to your child’s doctor, school nurse or PE teacher. A dietitian can create healthy meal plans. Many hospitals offer weight management programs for kids. Your local YMCA and Boys and Girls Club may offer helpful programs and classes.

Remember No One is Perfect.
Not everything that goes into your mouth is going to be homemade or 100% nutritious. That’s OK.  

Show Your Kids How to Have a Healthy Relationship With Food. Teach them about moderation and eating right throughout the day.

How do you keep your family healthy? Let us know in the comments below.

Sources: Tips to Help Children Maintain a Healthy Weight, leaving site icon Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021; Childhood Obesityleaving site icon Mayo Clinic, 2020.

Originally published: 8/19/2015; Revised 2019, 2022