You are your child's health role model
Setting a healthy example is proven to reduce weight issues in kids.
Carol Chaffin Published: 7/11/2018
Over the last 30 years, the rate of childhood obesity in the United States has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in teens, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Put more simply, one out of three children and adolescents in our country is either overweight or obese. But did you know that one of the main reasons is that parents are setting examples for their kids by making unhealthy lifestyle choices themselves?
Pediatric clinical psychologist Terrie Andrews, PhD, administrator for Baptist Behavioral Health, said that first and foremost, parents must eat nutritious foods and maintain a healthy lifestyle because their habits and routines are most definitely handed down to their children.
“If parents are eating poorly and not exercising, the likelihood increases that their children will do the same. Parents have to take an active role in setting an example of a healthy lifestyle,” she said. “Stay healthy, take care of yourself and exercise, and your children will follow suit.”
Sitting down at the dinner table and sharing a nutritious meal with your children is beneficial not only because it’s a great way to spend quality time together, but because research shows that kids find food more appealing when it’s presented to them in a positive setting, she added.
Another downfall is the lack of healthy food choices available at home for kids to eat. Stocking the pantry with processed, high-carb and sugar-filled foods like chips, cookies and sugary cereals instead of fruits and vegetables is a sure way to set them up for poor nutrition and eating habits that will very likely follow them right into adulthood. If there are certain foods your children aren’t allowed to have, never hide or eat them in front of your kids.
“That can lead to resentment and entitlement,” said Dr. Andrews. “If you can have those foods, why can’t they?”
While she admits it’s not easy to eat healthy all of the time, each meal can make a difference toward that goal. “It’s a lifestyle, not a diet. If you feel that you failed during a particular meal, try again at the next one,” said Dr. Andrews.
Here are some health risks for overweight kids:
- • High blood pressure and high cholesterol, both risk factors for heart disease
- • Increased risk of Type 2 diabetes
- • Breathing problems like sleep apnea and asthma
- • Joint problems
- • Fatty liver disease, gallstones and heartburn
- • Depression, low self-esteem and behavioral problems
- • Problems with social, physical and emotional functioning