As a parent, teacher, or other caregiver, you should make a conscious effort
to prevent childhood obesity. In a world filled with fast food restaurants and
soda, this is not always easy. You must provide children with healthy eating
choices. Additionally, encourage children to actually want to eat healthy.
If describe junk food as a treat and health food as necessary, children will
believe that eating healthily is a chore or even a punishment. Make healthy
food the treat; serve children delicious fresh fruit, fresh whole grain bread,
and lean meats that they will enjoy. Junk food should be portrayed as inferior,
both in taste and nutrition. This should not be too hard to teach since junk
food really is inferior. The trick will be demonstrating that you yourself
actually prefer health food.
Avoid using food as a reward. This will cause children to eat when they are
happy, when they are sad, and eat when they are not at all hungry; this
behavior will continue into adulthood. Food is not a reward, and children
should be taught to eat only in response to hunger.
Actually, children are naturally very good about eating only when they are
hungry; usually, they begin to lose this ability only because adults teach them
to always finish their plate and eat special treats whether or not they are
already full. Never force children to eat more than they want.
In order to maintain a healthy weight, children also need to exercise. The
type of exercise does not matter. Children can ride bikes, skate board, play
dance games at the local arcade, play basketball, or do anything else that
appeals to them. If your child is not very physically active, you should enroll
him or her in a sports organization or class. Even children who are normally
quite active will benefit from more structured activities, which will allow
them to increase their physical abilities while developing discipline. If your
child is more academically minded, remind him or her that high school sports
look great on college applications.
Remember that you are a role model. If you are telling children to eat
healthy and exercise regularly while you yourself do neither of these things,
you advice will probably not be followed. So eat well, enjoy eating well, and