You’ve heard the alarming statistic before: one-third of U.S. children and teens are overweight or obese, increasing their risk of developing health problems such as diabetes.
But what can the typical parent do to prevent childhood obesity?
Cindy Cunningham, a nutritionist at UT Southwestern Medical Center, has a few tips that can help a child stay healthy.
First, help babies avoid weight issues from the start of their lives.
“Even people with a genetic tendency to be overweight can avoid excessive weight gain with good nutrition and exercise. Start with breastfeeding and introduce solid foods when the baby is developmentally ready – around four to six months of age,” says Ms. Cunningham. “Learn to recognize your child’s hunger signs and don’t use food as a pacifier.”
Other tips include:
• Keep portions small and allow children to get a second helping if they’re still hungry.
• Keep the healthy food and snack options, such as fruit, stocked in the kitchen.
• Don’t give up on offering healthy foods, as it might take several tries before a child will accept.
• Use low-calorie substitutes when cooking meals, such as low-fat cheese and nonfat milk.
• Encourage children to get exercise through physical activity.
Source: UT Southwestern Medical Center