Childhood obesity in this country has tripled in the last 30 years. In fact, according to the CDC, currently one in five children is overweight or obese.
Those kinds of statistics don’t bode well for the health of our youth. In one sampling of overweight children ages 5 to 17, almost 60 percent had at least one risk factor for heart disease (e.g., high cholesterol or high blood pressure), and another 25 percent had two or more risk factors.
The good news? When families work together at losing weight and developing healthy habits, they have greater success. In one study, kids who had parents working with them to lose weight shed more pounds and kept them off longer than kids trying to lose weight alone. Some get-healthy steps to take as a family:
- Be a good role model. When your kids see you on the treadmill instead of in front of the TV, or reaching for an apple instead of apple pie for dessert, they’re more apt to follow suit.
- Get the gang involved. Invite the kids to go grocery shopping with you to choose healthy snacks. Scan healthy-eating cookbooks together and pick out meals that look appetizing. Make a plan for nightly family activity – say, walking the dog together or playing whiffle ball in the backyard.
- Don’t go cold turkey. You’ll likely face a mutiny if you purge the pantry or fridge of unhealthy foods overnight. Make changes gradually – moving, say, from whole milk to 2 percent to 1 percent or fat-free over time.
- Make healthy food visible and accessible. Want your family to eat more fruit? Leave a fruit bowl on the kitchen counter. Prefer they eat carrots over sugary yogurts? Stash the carrots up front, the yogurt in the crisper.
- Keep trying new foods. It’s not unusual for kids to reject a new, healthy food 10 times – then finally accept it on the 11th. Their taste buds are finicky and their resolve is strong. Keep trying. And bring in the cavalry if you must. For example, your child may be more excited to try pineapple if she knew it was one of Taylor Swift’s favorite fruits.
- Speak their language. You may be motivated to lose weight to prevent life-threatening diseases like diabetes and hypertension, but your kids probably won’t relate. Instead, point out the benefits – like being a faster base runner – losing weight can have on their lives right now.
- Don’t go it alone. Seek out your child’s pediatrician for some expert advice on controlling your child’s weight. Medi-Weightloss® also offers an adolescent program that helps empower youth 12 to 18 to live healthier.
This information is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be an exhaustive examination of the subject matter nor a substitute for medical advice. Always consult your primary care physician or healthcare provider before beginning any diet or exercise program.
Active Medi-Weightloss® patients should consult the experts at their location on whether the foods and recipes mentioned are appropriate for their phase of the program.