As a parent, you have an important role in guiding your children and teens to make healthy food choices and be physically active. Your kids and teens are also watching what you do. By role modeling positive nutrition and activity habits, you are sure to improve your family's health. Here are some resources to help you!
Why are children overweight?
- Children are not getting enough daily physical activity at school and not enough active play at home.
- Too much time is spent in front of the computer and/or television.
- Children are skipping breadfast and snacking more on high fat, high sugar foods, expecially while watching television.
- Consumption of sweetened beverages such as sodas, juice, and sports drinks (Tang, Kool Aid, Capri Sun, Gatorade), has gone up while the consumption of milk has decreased.
- Eating outside the home occurs more often and the choices of food are not healthy.
- Portion sizes have increased dramatically.
- Children are eating less fruits and vegetables. French fries are the top vegetable consumed by children.
- Children do not have healthy role models.
- More teens report a fear of being "fat," a fear of eating and lack of cooking skills.
Helping your child: What families can do:
- Love, support, and accept your child. Give your children attention, support and respect.
- Make healthy eating, cooking, and physical activity an important part of your family's daily routine.
- Avoid blaming your child for their weight.
- Avoid name calling like fatty, porky, or teasing your child about their weight.
- Encourage your children to be physically active for at least 60 minutes Everyday! Be active along with your children.
- Limit daily television and computer time to a maximum of 30 minutes for chldren under the age of 2, and 2 hours for older children and teens.
- Limit sweetened foods and drinks. Limit juice, soda, and other sweetened drinks to one small glass (4-6 oz) a day. Offer more water and milk.
- Offer more fresh, frozen, or canned fruits and vegetables. Make sure canned fruits and vegetables have no added sugar or sodium
- Encourage breakfast daily. Make it part of your family's daily routine.
- Eat with your children often. Have family meals during the week.
- Garden and cook with your children.
- Limit fast food and dining out to once a week.
- DO NOT put your child on a diet. Instead encourage healthy eating and physical activity.
- Watch portion sizes. Educate your family about food choices and portions.
- Don't use food, especially candy, as a reward or as a means of shaping behavior.
- Let your child decide how much to eat. Teach your child to listen to his/her body for signs of hunger and fullness.
To help you achieve these goals we have a list of resources below:
- Working with your health care professionals
Your child's pediatrician or local community clinic will review your child's health, growth pattern, and family history to assess if your child is at risk for being overweight. Your child's health care team can also provide you with a more individualized plan to help keep your child and family healthy.
- Working towards a healthy school environment
Work with your child, principal, teachers, child nutrition staff, and school staff to foster an active and healthy environment at your child's school. Here are some ideas and links to websties where you can get more information:
- Encourage school fundraisers that sell items other than candy. California Project Lean
- If you bring treats to your child's schools for birthdays and other celebrations, consider healthy party favors and healthy snacks.
- CSPI School Foods Toolkit: Working to Improve the Nutrition Quality of Foods and Beverages in the Schools.
- Information about school nutrition programs from the California Department of Education.
- Network for a Healthy California: Children's Power Play! Campaign website with tips for parents and free school curriculum.
Helping Children: What communities can do:
- Promote affordable locally grown produce
- Maintain open space and parks for play and physical activity opportunities.
- Offer healthy foods and snacks at community events, child-care programs, churches, and after-school programs.
- Provide opportunities for recreational sports in addition to comptetitive sports.
- Work with your city planning department to develop more walkable and safe communities.
- Support legislation that promotes healthy environments for children.
- USDA Food Pyramid www.mypyramid.gov
- A family guide to healthy eating www.nutritionexplorations.org
- Healthy cooking and nutrition information www.mealsmatter.org
- Nutrition and Physical Activity www.kidnetic.com
- Eat Smart, Play Hard www.fns.usda.gov/eatsmartplayhard
- Information for Parents, Educators, Food Service, and Child Care providers http://teamnutrition.usda.gov/parents.html