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For years I have been careful not to spout off about weight control lest I inadvertently cause parents to focus too much on the size and shape of their preteen daughters thereby encouraging the development of anorexia.
There is no question that there is far too much cultural and family pressure on young girls to look like the hyper-thin models that fill our magazines and TV screens.
But recent data on the EPIDEMIC OF OBESITY are scary. Almost 30% of adults are obese by medical standards. It’s also pretty obvious that preventive health measures should start in childhood to be effective.
Parents, we all have a job to do. Even though genes are the greatest determinant of weight, how and what we eat from early childhood on can play a big role.
How can parents prevent obesity in their children?
• BREAST FEEDING starts the child out right. There is little chance for overfeeding as can happen with formula.
• Feed your toddlers and children SMALL AMOUNTS and let them ask for more if they are hungry.
• FORGET ABOUT THE CLEAN PLATE CLUB. Let your kids stop eating when they are full. Don’t ever say, “If you finish your dinner, you get dessert.”
• CUT DOWN PORTION SIZES for everybody. Pay attention to serving sizes.
• Provide HEALTHY SNACKS like fresh fruit, raw veggies, crackers and cheese instead of chips. My kids loved sliced apples spread thinly with peanut butter or honey.
• Feed your family what I call a “HAPPY, HEALTHY DIET.” Use lots of fruits and vegetables, and whole grains. Offer relatively low fat foods like lean meats and fish. Limit sugar.
• At restaurants follow the TAKE-HALF-HOME-PLAN. Most restaurant portions are at least twice what is healthy to eat at one meal. Ask for a container or split an entree.
• CUT DOWN TV TIME and INCREASE EXERCISE TIME for the entire family. A long family walk provides both exercise and togetherness for all.
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