Obesity in kids is widespread
a parent to name the greatest health threat to
children and you'll hear about drinking or drugs.
Rarely will anyone cite obesity-even though it can
lead to heart disease, high blood pressure or
It's at least as great a risk as smoking, If not
And it's rampant. One child in 5 is overweight,
according to the National Institutes of Health. Kids
are more than twice as likely to be overweight today
than kids were 30 years ago.
Researchers place much of the blame on fast food and
a sedentary childhood.
Kids today spend an increasing amount of time
watching TV, playing video games or sitting at the
computer. Schools have cut back or eliminated
physical education classes in favor of more academic
Busy families often let nutrition slide, as they
rely on fast-food meals and junk-food snacks.
Obesity largely stems from a combination of poor
eating and exercise habits, so both must be
Foundations developed in the early years to
determine whether you choose a healthy lifestyle
Here's what you can do about it:
• Set realistic goals. Talk to your pediatrician or
family doctor about healthy ways for your child to
• Offer healthful snack alternatives. Keep fresh
fruit on hand instead of chips.
• Teach moderation. One cookie-not eight-is OK.
Don't order your child a super-size fast-food meal.
• Get your child moving. Exercise as a family and
encourage your child to be active every day. Build
up to 30 minutes of Vigorous activity every day.
• Change habits. Just switching to skim milk can
• Start early. About 40 percent of overweight
children stay fat as adults. The ratio rises to 75
percent for adolescents.
• Set an example. As a parent, are you eating right