When trying to help a child who is headed for obesity, it is important to keep in mind the positive support the family can provide. Here are some ways to plan family activities.
- Step 1: Show your child that sharing healthy meals at home can be fun. Encourage portion control, but don't try to control what the child eats. Doing so can lead to anger or secret eating, which may contribute to eating disorders.
- FACT: From 1980 to 2010, childhood obesity in the U.S. more than tripled.
- Step 2: Have meals together at home as a family. Family dinners are healthier than meals at restaurants, and you can modify recipes by making them low-calorie or low-fat. Remember, it takes between 1 and 2 hours of vigorous physical activity to counteract a child's meal at a fast food restaurant.
- Step 3: Be sensitive to the child's needs. If they are overweight, they may be uncomfortable participating in certain activities. Look for physical activities that the child can enjoy without having their self-esteem threatened.
- Step 4: Plan activities that the whole family can participate in. Walking, bicycling, and swimming are all good choices.
- TIP: Try to reduce the amount of time your family spends in sedentary activities like watching TV or playing video games.
- Step 5: Be a positive role model. Let the child see that you enjoy physical activities. This will help establish patterns of physical activity in the child that can persist for the rest of their life.