Parents take note: Fighting childhood obesity begins at home

We've reported on the topic of childhood obesity before, but the statistics get more and more frightening. Childhood obesity is increasing o dramatically that it's reaching epidemic proportions. A recent study conducted by Dr. Richard Strauss and Harold Pollack (The Journal of the American Medical Association,2001;2845–2848) looked at data to investigate recent changes in the prevalence of overweight in children aged 4 to 12. What did they find? Between 1986 and 1998, overweight increased by more than 120 percent among African Americans and Hispanics and by more than 50 percent among whites. The sharpest increases were seen among boys.

The authors suggest that the overweight increases stem from a variety of causes, and that, “Provision of high-fat meals and snacks in school settings is both a powerful temptation and a clear signal of accepted nutritional norms.” The authors also add that, “Like adolescent smoking, teen pregnancy and youth violence, childhood overweight is prevalent because it arises from deeply rooted behaviors and from social practices that are hardly confined to children.” This means that parents should look at their own eating habits to see what example they are providing for their children. Healthy eating habits start at home. The easiest place to make changes is with snacks. Trade in sugary snacks for air-popped popcorn and fresh fruit. Soda should be replaced with water and minimally sweetened juice and cereals should be high in fiber and low in sweeteners.

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