7 Part Plan To Beating Childhood Obesity

Everyone from politicians to parents is talking about fighting the war against childhood flab. It is odd that in a relatively wealthy countries such as the US and Australia improving children's health, weight and fitness should be a problem but it appears to be a sticking point with many.

Childhood obesity in a developed country like Australia and the United States is essentially a lifestyle issue. Children are overweight because they eat inappropriate amounts and types of food and they don't exercise enough. To put it simply many children are stacking on the weight because calorie intake is higher than calories burned.

Children's lifestyles are generally a reflection of those who raise them so parents need to figure heavily in any strategies put forward to improve the health and wellbeing of the next generation.

The trouble is many parents have grown accustomed to outsourcing those hard to deal with issues such as sexuality and drug education to schools and other agencies. Children' health and well-being is an issue that parents should take prime responsibility for. Parents can beat childhood obesity rather than leave it up to schools to fix or politicians to meddle with.

Here is a simple, fool-proof lifestyle plan that parents can adopt to ensure their children grow up healthy and fit rather than overweight and unhealthy:

1. Limit the amount of children's television, computer and electronic games usage to a maximum of two hours a day. Very little physical exertion is needed to watch TV or use other electronic equipment so for the sake of fitness their use of these needs to be limited. Send children outside, suggest they walk or ride to a friend's house or even suggest they have a friend or four over to play. One third of Australian children would prefer to play computer games than play outside so parents may have to be assertive and, at times, over-zealous but so be it.

2. Children walk or ride a bike to school each day. Recent Roy Morgan research revealed that 60 per cent of Australian 6 ? 13 year olds would like to walk to school but only 30 per cent actually do. Most children would get their required minimum two hours of exercise a week by walking or riding their bikes to school. This may mean that parents may have to walk to school with younger children or ensure they are adequately supervised. Bike riding is not safe for every child but more bike tracks in the vicinity of schools would be a great start.

3. Keep unhealthy food out of the trolley and include more fruit. This may be stating the bleeding obvious but as keepers of the family purse parents have the main stake in what food goes in and what stays out of the shopping trolley. It seems that parents are on the right track as more Australian children eat fruit after school than sweet biscuits but even so the number of fruit eaters can do with a boost. Only 43 per cent of Australian children eat fruit after school so more fruit could be a good place to start.

4. Serve healthy meals at the table on a regular basis. The humble ritual that sees adults and children who are related to each other breaking bread together on a daily or at least regular basis has a lot going for it. Far from being a refuelling stop mealtime is an opportunity for everyone to catch up and to share good healthy, well-prepared food. True, busyness of life get in the way of this healthy ritual but it is about getting our priorities right.

5. Parents play with their children or join them in a physical activity. The family that plays together stays thin together could well be the motto of our times. It should be easy for adults to sell their children on the virtues of playing physical games outside as play comes before work in most children's dictionaries. Fathers tend to be the kings of play but work and other lifestyle factors can get in the way.

6. Encourage children to be involved in at least one organised physical activity each week. Some parents may need to be insistent but 88 per cent of Australian children say they enjoy sport so getting children motivated for physical activity shouldn't be hard. There is no shortage of options for children these days as there are activities and sports that cater of a diverse range of interests, abilities and body types.

7. Parents model a healthy lifestyle. Do as I do not as I say is the idea here. It is little use parents telling their kids to go out and play as they tuck into their second wine or they slump into the couch. Modelling is the most important tool in the armoury if we want children to develop sustained healthy eating and exercise habits. For the record, a healthy lifestyle is one where people talk to each other (ideal for emotional well-being), one where food and alcohol intake occurs in moderation and physical activity is a natural part of the day.

This plan has a great deal going for it. It is cost-free, easy to use and places the responsibility where it lay ? with parents. It also has the added bonus of promoting healthy relationships as if they follow this plan parents and kids should spend more time together which can't be a bad thing.

For further ideas to help you raise happy children and resilient teenagers visit www.parentingideas.com.au . While you are there subscribe to Happy Kids newsletter and receive a free report - Seven ways to beat sibling rivalry.

Michael Grose is Australia's leading parenting educator. He is the author of six books and gives over 100 presentations a year and appears regularly on television, radio and in print.

For further ideas to help you raise happy children and resilient teenagers visit http://www.parentingideas.com.au. While you are there subscribe to Happy Kids newsletter and receive a free report Seven ways to beat sibling rivalry.

In The News:


pen paper and inkwell


cat break through


What is Your Healthy Body Weight

Everywhere we look in the western world we are inundated... Read More

Obesity - The Number 1 Health Issue in the US

Obesity is quickly becoming the number one health issue confronting... Read More

Weight Loss and Disease ? It?s Not the Food that?s Killing Us!

Whether coming from a close friend, the nightly news or... Read More

Weight Loss: Keeping Your Results Over the Summer

Having just returned from a week of basking on a... Read More

A Soda a Day: How is it Affecting Your Weight?

Many people limit themselves to one soda a day especially... Read More

Is the Dr Atkins Diet Safe?

The Dr Atkins Diet has been around for ages, but... Read More

Fast Weight Loss ? The Importance of Low Body-fat Levels!

My name is Greg Ryan and I am a high... Read More

Bodybuilding Weightloss Diet Tips And Strategies

Just the facts on bodybuilding weightloss strategies that work. No... Read More

Walking for Weight Loss: Walking with a Purpose

I wrote this article back in the late fall when... Read More

Summer Dieting Tips

Cut the Calories, Bring Out the BikiniSummer's almost here and... Read More

Diet Tips for Weight Loss: Free Diet Tips Which You Cant Afford to Miss! (Part 2)

Obesity is a disease that is not caused by a... Read More

Weight Loss Secret -- Think Bodybuilding

This little known secret has been used by bodybuilders for... Read More

Determine Your Stage and Plot Your Weight Loss Course

We all know that losing weight and improving your overall... Read More

Weight Loss/Control Glossary of Terms

A Little Help With Some Difficult terms Aerobic Exercise.... Read More

Weight Loss, Exercise, and Bodybuilding Tips ? Keeping Your Body-Fat Low: Part 4 of 10

Which is easier to do ? turn a car's steering... Read More

The South Beach Diet

Among the most popular forms of dieting is the South... Read More

How to Buy Chocolate Then Forget to Eat It

Some Say I'm Strange. I Prefer to Think of Myself... Read More

Does Fat Free Really Mean Free Of Fat?

Do you know what the words really mean on food... Read More

Facts You Need To Know About A Low Carb Diet

What is low carb?We've all heard about the Atkins diet... Read More

Know How Many Calories To Cut For Permanent Weight Loss

It is not recommended to lose more than 1 pound... Read More

Confessions From A Fat Doctor

I never intended to get fat! I am not exactly... Read More

Abdominal Liposuction - When Diets Dont Work

Abdominal liposuction refers to liposuction, or lipoplasty, that is performed... Read More

Personal Space: Life After Lap-Band Surgery

Have I become invisible or are people just aiming right... Read More

7 Weight Control Habits

Here are 7 simple habits that can help anyone enjoy... Read More

Emotional Eating

Yesterday, out of the blue, without any foreboding gossip or... Read More

Weight Loss: Carbs? Or No Carbs?

Dietitians just plain don't like low-carb or high-protein diets.Whether it's... Read More

How to Design the Perfect Diet

All Diets Are Based on the Same Premise: Eat Less... Read More

The Truth About Diet Myths

How do we know what we know? Often, our knowledge... Read More

To Lose Weight, Feed Your Brains

When was the last time you focused so much on... Read More

9 Quick Ways To Conquer Cellulite

In our never ending search for the illusive "Fountain of... Read More

QuickTips for Healthy Weight Loss

More than any other time in history, people are all... Read More

Diet and Exercise Evolution: Adaptation (part II) -- Examples and Practical Advice

Understanding the theory of adaptation (see previous article, Adaptation I)... Read More

Before & After: A New Look at New Years Resolutions

Have you seen the ditty below that's roaming the Internet... Read More