Today’s kids are more likely than their parents to face serious health issues associated with obesity. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 9 million kids between the ages of 6 and 19 are overweight or obese. The number has doubled in recent decades. Approximately 70 percent of overweight children will grow up to be overweight adults with all of the health risks and diseases that accompany obesity. If you are a concerned parent looking for a way to get your kids off the sugar and into their fruits and veggies, here are a few kid-friendly ideas to try out at home.
Ways to Keep Kids Moving:
- Take your child to the library once a week to look for kid-friendly
books on nutrition. Read them together, and take simple notes about good versus
bad foods and their effect on the body. Check out a book or two on organic
gardening, or search online for gardening websites that cater to kids.
- Grow a small garden—either in a raised container, at a community garden
or in your yard. Involve your child in the entire process, from researching
seeds and types of fruits and vegetables to planting, tending and harvesting the
- Have your children help you make smoothies using fresh fruit, crushed
ice, milk or yogurt. Add honey to sweeten it. Let them pick out which type of
fruit they’ll have in it. Serve them in big, funny cups with wide bendy straws.
- Have older children write a list of the ingredients in one of their
favorite highly processed and sweet foods. Have them research each of the
- Contact your local cooperative extension to ask about free or low-cost
nutrition classes for kids. Have them send you literature written for kids.
Staffed by experts in nutrition and agriculture, these federally funded
non-credit educational networks can provide free advice on issues ranging from
farming to physical fitness, nature and health.
- Keep an achievement chart on the refrigerator. Give gold-star or other
cute stickers for nutrition accomplishments, such as having an apple instead of
candy after school.
- Include proper fitness along with nutrition when you’re encouraging healthy habits in your kids. Join a gym, or sign them up for sports activities or dance classes after school.
- Let your kids help you plan the menu, shop for food, and prepare
nutritious and delicious meals. Explain the differences between whole wheat and
white flours and pastas; partially hydrogenated fats and good fats; and corn
syrup and natural sugar. If you don’t know the difference, find out so that you
can help your children make better choices.
- Learn about the difference between factory-farmed meat and chicken
versus free-range and organic. You may not want to go into graphic detail about
these issues with your children. Be able to explain that there is a distinction,
so they make good shopping choices instead of purchasing prepackaged, highly
processed lunch meats and “nuggets.” Get your kids involved in “cruelty-free”
advocacy, and watch how interested they become in eating “happy” meat.
Weight should never be the focus of any nutrition discussion with your child. Try to place any advice or suggestions in the context of what is best for the body, overall—growth and development, energy level, shiny hair, clear skin and other aspects of health. Focusing on weight alone could lead to an eating