The Parent’s Role in Combating Childhood Obesity

Statistics show that as many as twenty-five percent of children and teens today are obese. But how does a parent know when their child is truly obese? All children gain weight as they grow older. Extra pounds – more than their body needs to support their growth and development – can become a concern.

When a child or teen is above the accepted weight range for their height and age, parents must take note. In recent years, several “adult” diseases have begun to show in children on a more regular basis, including diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. According to the Mayo Clinic website, a parent’s role is to involve the entire family in better nutrition and more activity.

In “The Role of Parents in Preventing Childhood Obesity” by Ana C. Lindsay, Katarina M. Sussner, Juhee Kim, and Steven Gortmaker, it is argued that “interventions aimed at preventing childhood overweight and obesity should involve parents as important forces for change in their children’s behaviors.” A story from ABC News offers these practical tips for parents:

Create a family activity that involves fitness, such as walks, bike rides, or rollerblading.

Find other families in your neighborhood and schedule time for basketball, hide and seek, and other active games.

Give kids active chores around the house — vacuum, wash the car, or mow the lawn.

Limit TV privileges.

Plan a healthy diet for the entire family.

Avoid using food as a reward for good behavior or withholding a meal as punishment.

Eat meals together and pay attention to portion size.

Choose fruits, vegetables, and yogurt as snacks and avoid items high in fat, sugar, and calories.

If a child is not hungry, avoid forcing child to eat.

Parents can and must take a positive role in ensuring every opportunity for a healthy childhood for children.