Healthy Eating Habits in Children: Get 'Em Started Early
The "First Mom," Michelle Obama, kicked off a national effort to address childhood obesity. What a great cause to support, but why did it come down to having someone like the First Lady put her weight behind it (no pun intended) to address this alarming situation?
CDC statistiscs on childhood obesity show that the number of obese kids has grown almost threefold, to about 17%. Although alarming, it's hardly a surprise. If anything, it's somewhat surprising that it's not higher. Kids are spending less time playing outside. More households have two working parents, which means less time to cook a meal at home or to spend time with the kids, and therefore more fast food and TV.
The national effort "Let's Move" calls for specific steps to be taken by the government and private sector. This is great, but there are some common-sense actions parents can take which will make kids better judges of what to eat. The key is to teach them healthy eating habits from the early childhood:
• Eat in moderation. This includes both healthy and unhealthy food. Yes, you must let kids eat a little "junk" food as a treat. Make them learn the concept of moderation and self control. Having a small chocolate chip cookie every other day is fine.
• Enjoy dinners — eat slowly. It takes 20 minutes for the stomach to send a message to the brain. We tend to eat a lot more when we are starving, because our brains don't know right away that the stomach is full. Dinners should be events — enjoy them as a family and teach kids how to avoid feeling too full.Continued on the next page