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.


Wellness: Action for Healthy Kids

With childhood obesity and its alarming consequences at an all-time high, the value of improving nutrition and physical activity in our nation’s schools is clear. But what is not as clear is how to implement the changes needed to make a lasting improvement. The Action for Healthy Kids website provides everything needed to start taking action—from initiating an after-school program to instituting a school wellness policy.

Other topics include academic achievement, advertising/marketing in schools, ala carte foods, alternatives to food as a reward, childhood obesity, co-curricular programs, community family outreach, coordinated school health program, fundraising in schools, minority outreach programs, nutritional information, physical activity, physical education, school health advisory councils, staff wellness programs, and vending/snack stores.

Wellness: America Walks

America Walks is a national coalition of local advocacy groups dedicated to promoting walkable communities. Its members are autonomous grassroots organizations from across the country, each working to improve conditions for walking in their area.

The mission of America Walks is to foster the development of community-based pedestrian advocacy groups, to educate the public about the benefits of walking, and, when appropriate, to act as a collective voice for walking advocates.

To carry out their mission, they provide a support network for local pedestrian advocacy groups. They offer advice about how to get started and how to be effective with public officials and engineering and design professionals.

Currently there are walking groups in St. Louis and Columbia.



MO HealthNet for Kids

The Department of Social Services provides many services for Missouri children through the MO HealthNet for Kids (MHK) Program, the state’s healthcare program for children. Two divisions within the department, the Family Support Division and the MO HealthNet Division coordinate to provide these services.

Through the MO HealthNet for Kids program, children receive full, comprehensive coverage including primary, acute and preventative care, hospital care, dental and vision care as well as prescription coverage. Whether your child is currently enrolled in MO HealthNet for Kids or you’re interested in learning more about the program, this portal page has been created to help you find information from all three divisions including how to apply, who is eligible, what benefits are offered and how to find a doctor in your area.

To check for eligibility, cost, application procedures, availability of services, visit the Missouri Department of Social Services website. You may apply online, call 1-888-275-5908 (toll free), or visit your local Family Support Division office.