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Fight Childhood Obesity by Making Weight Loss a Family Affair


Fight Childhood Obesity by Making Weight Loss a Family Affair

Here are some advices on how to change unhealthy behaviors and create a healthy-weight environment for your entire family. This is quite important because treating and preventing childhood obesity starts at home, when the entire family adopts healthier habits.

In most cases, eating too much and exercising too little is the cause of obesity. Increasing physical activity and eating healthier is the solution, which could be quite difficult for your child to do it by him/herself.

 

HOW TO CHANGE FAMILY BEHAVIORS:

You should encourage your entire family to make healthy lifestyle changes rather than singling out your child. The following steps could be helpful:

 

Start small:

You should start by making a number of small changes such as taking a family walk after dinner once a week, switching from soda to milk or water, or turning off the TV during dinner. This is important because the changes that are easiest to incorporate and maintain long-term are the small ones.

 

Set goals:

Determine your family goals after setting realistic and measurable goals for each of the family members. For instance, eating fruit for afternoon snacks may be your child's goal, while taking a walk three times a week could be your goal. After this, you may set a goal for your whole family such as limiting unhealthy foods.

 

Recognize triggers:

You should admit to yourself that there will be situations that will tempt you to fall back to your old habits, but you should also decide that you are ready to face them. For instance, if you're used to eating popcorn at the movies, you could share a small carton of popcorn with your child, or you could bring enough money for admission only.

 

Celebrate success:

To keep your family motivated, you could reward them frequently. For instance you could offer attention and praise when your child starts asking for fruit instead of cookies after school. You could also find healthy ways to celebrate your success when your family meets a goal. You could try a picnic or a family movie.

 

Keep it positive:

Instead of focusing on a number on the scale or your child's appearance, you should focus on healthy lifestyle changes. You should keep in mind that to replace established behaviors with new and healthy behaviors, treating childhood obesity takes a lot of time and dedication.

 

Be flexible:

Getting used to healthy habits will take quite some time. You should encourage everyone in your family to stick to the plan, but it'll be better to create a new plan if your goals aren't working.

 

HOW TO CREATE A HEALTHY-WEIGHT ENVIRONMENT:

You should create an environment that supports healthy habits and behaviors when you're working towards these goals. You could try the following:

 

Surround your family with healthy foods:

You should keep junk food and sugary drinks out of the house, and instead, stock your kitchen with vegetables, fruits, whole-grains, as well as other healthy foods.

 

Don't eat out:

Sit down together for family meals and cut the habit of eating out in fast-food and other restaurants. You could try making family favourites with healthier alternatives. However, you should always remember to keep portion sizes reasonable. You could also try encouraging your kids to get involved in shopping and preparing the meal.

 

Make physical activity a part of your daily routine:

You should include your children in active chores such as walking the dog or washing the car. You could also organize family outings that involve physical activity. Additionally, you can encourage your children to dance, jump rope, participate in school sports or do other physical activities on their own.

 

Limit household screen time:

Don't allow eating in front of the TV or computer, and keep those devices out of the bedrooms. You should also set reasonable rules for computer and TV time, such as one to two hours a day for each member, including the parents.

 

BE A POSITIVE ROLE MODEL:

Committing to the changes yourself is the best way to get your child to continue with the new and active lifestyle. Your child will learn how, what and when to eat by observing your actions. You should also make being physically active a priority, so that your child can follow your actions.

 

Here are some advices on how to be a positive role model:

 

  • Turn off the TV
  • Don't bring junk food into the house
  • Instead of the number on the scale, stress the importance of healthy lifestyle choices.
  • Be physically active every day
  • Save high-calorie snacks and treats only for special occasions
  • Eat nutritious foods
  • Control your portion sizes

 

If you're busy trying to deal with the demands of daily life, making lifestyle changes can be particularly challenging. However, your chances of success will be greater if your family works together and supports each others' efforts. Over time, these healthy habits will become a part of your routine, so that you and your family will treat childhood obesity and live a healthier life.

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Prepared By: Dr. Mehyar Al-Khashroum
Edited By: Miss  Araz Kahvedjian


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