Parents can role model healthy eating

By Sharon M. Smith

Part one of two

We have all heard about the growing number of obese children in America, but as I stand in the middle of my son’s playground at his elementary school in the La Jolla area, I don’t see very many overweight children. Does this mean we don’t have to worry about our children growing up and becoming obese?

Don’t think your child is in the clear if you allow them to eat whatever they like or spend most of their days clicking away on some electronic device. According to California Center for Public Health Advocacy, 40 percent of fifth graders and 44 percent of ninth graders are overweight. Since 1980, the percentage of American children who are overweight has doubled. The percentage of overweight adolescents has nearly tripled, according to Kaiser Permanente.

The numbers are staggering. What we teach our children today about healthy eating and daily exercise will help them take healthy habits into their adulthood. We can fight obesity right here in our homes and at their schools (in my next article).

Remember the scene in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire when Harry’s cousin goes on a diet and the entire family starts eating only grapefruit for breakfast? Harry, who is still starving, runs up to his room and gobbles up sweets and treats. The idea of a family effort is good, but putting your child on a diet and keeping them hungry is not encouraged. According to KidsHealth, “The key to keeping kids of all ages at a healthy weight is taking a whole-family approach.” They encourage us to “make eating and exercise a family affair.” The agency also alerts us parents to some common food eating behavior traps such as these don’ts:

Reward children for good behavior or try to stop bad behavior with sweets or treats. (I wonder if that also refers to rewards for potty training. Hmmm).

Maintain a clean-plate policy. That policy was strictly enforced at my family’s table when growing up. I even remember falling asleep at the table because I had to sit there until I finished my peas.

Talk about “bad food” or completely eliminate all sweets and favorite snack from overweight children’s diets. According to the site, “Children may rebel and over eat these forbidden foods outside the home or sneak them in on their own.”

The overall tip is to serve a variety of healthy foods and eat meals together. Try to include five servings of fruits and vegetables a day in their diet, encourage your child to eat breakfast every day and pack healthy snacks for them.

Kaiser Permanente also encourages us to create opportunities for our children to play hard at least 30-60 minutes every day, to limit our children’s electronic time and that even small increases in physical activity over time can make a big difference in our children’s weight and health.

If your child is overweight, according to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, your child will not need to lose weight, but to reduce their rate of weight gain so that they can “grow into” their weight (consult your physician if you are concerned or thinking of putting them on a diet). Unless your child is motivated to change eating habits and activity levels, then he or she will fall back into past habits.

If your child is underweight, alerts us to, “avoid letting your child fill [up on] empty calories, such as candy and soft drinks, or high-fat food from fast-food restaurants. Begin by planning meals and snacks with calorie-dense foods from each food group.”

It wasn’t the first bath, changing their diapers, figuring out how our kids can sleep through the night, the first day of kindergarten, or a hard year of second grade that has stressed me out as a parent. It is the daily responsibility of making sure that my children eat all the foods in the food pyramid and get enough exercise. I worry about them not eating enough vegetables or how they spent a half an hour longer on their Gameboy or playing games on the computer.

But I’m trying to keep my kids healthy, and I know my example and my efforts are the best that I can give them. As KidsHealth summarizes, “Most of all, let your children know you love them – no matter what their weight – and that you want to help your child be happy and healthy.”

Related posts:

  1. History, faith, culture and art come together in iconic imagery
  2. High schools perform well in cross country championships
  3. Helping Casa de Amparo save lives
  4. Headline: How sweet it is: The Sugar Spa comes to town
  5. Half a year later, recreational vehicles still have free reign

Short URL:

Posted by on Feb 13, 2008. Filed under Archives. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Leave a Reply

La Jolla Community Calendar


Bottom Buttons 1

Bottom Buttons 2

Bottom Buttons 3

Bottom Buttons 4

Bottom Buttons 5

Bottom Buttons 6

RSS North Coastal News

  • Congregation Beth Am Labor Day Picnic September 2, 2014
    Congregation Beth Am held a festive Labor Day Picnic Sept. 1. This year is the 31st anniversary of this synagogue that started in a tire store in Solana Beach. […]
  • Suspects attempt to rob Solana Beach bank ATM September 2, 2014
    An attempt to break into an ATM at a Solana Beach bank branch early Sept. 2 using a cutting torch ended with the cash machine in flames and two suspects fleeing empty-handed. The suspects set off the ATM's alarm during the failed heist shortly after 2:30 a.m. in the 600 block of Lomas Santa Fe Drive near Glencrest Drive, according to sheriff's Lt. […]
  • First phase of Earl Warren Middle School reconstruction begins in Solana Beach September 2, 2014
    As kids kicked back this summer, San Dieguito Union High School District kicked off the first phase of its complete reconstruction of Earl Warren Middle School. The $41 million project is made possible by the passage of Proposition AA. […]