7 Ways Parents Can Influence Risk of Obesity

Here’s a link with some good advice for parents about developing healthy eating habits http://t.co/ChlRj2hEWV from Huffington Post and an excerpt (from Kristin Kirkpatrick, M.S., R.D., L.D):

I was recently called out for not being a “fun” mom because I wouldn’t buy artificially colored “fun” junk food for my son. …

We strive to teach manners, independence and kindness to our children but we often times fail to teach something just as important — the value of exercise and healthy eating. The majority of your child’s attitudes about food and nutrition, they’re desire to be physically active and even their weight will come directly from their parent’s.

Here are eight things about you that will most likely be passed down to your children. 

1. You’ve got a weight problem While part of your child’s risk for obesity, and even how picky they might be about trying certain foods may be caused by genetic factors, the bulk of your child’s predisposition to be overweight may actually be determined by your weight.  That’s right, if you’re overweight or obese, your child’s chances of following the same fate are between 25 to 50 percent. What about your child’s other parent? If he or she is also overweight, the chances just shot up to 75 percent.

A 2012 study found that a simple formula could predict a baby’s propensity to become obese and noted in the study that based on longitudinal cohort data, that 20 percent of children predicted to have the highest risk at birth make up 80 percent of obese children. The calculation is based on five factors including birth weight, the body mass index of the parents, the number of people in the household, the mother’s professional status and whether she smoked during pregnancy…

2. You use food to reward or withhold on a regular basis

3. In your home, junk food is its own food group A 2014 study  suggested that it wasn’t actually the vast presence of fast food establishments that was to blame for the pediatric obesity epidemic but rather overall bad habits that originated in the home. Homes that followed a “Western diet” defined in the study as having a prevalence of sugared sweetened beverages, salty snacks, high-fat sandwiches, candy and desserts were more likely to have obese or overweight kids with poor dietary habits.

The desire for junk food may actually be affected before birth as well. A 2013 animal study found that pregnant mothers who consumed junk foods, particularly fast food, actually altered the opiate signaling pathways in the brains of their offspring, making their baby’s more likely to crave foods high in fat and sugar.

4. You’re a couch potato A 2013 study found that kids whose moms encouraged them to exercise and eat well (and modeled these behaviors in themselves) were more likely to engage in physical activity and adhere to healthy eating habits. That means more movement, mom and dad, and less couch time! In addition to keeping kids sedentary, spending too much time on the couch as a family exposes your little one to more commercials that promote unhealthy foods, a risk factor for childhood obesity…

Limiting overall “screen time” in young children is also critical and has been shown  to reduce the risk for obesity and chronic conditions. Finally, if you’re thinking about letting your little one have a TV in his or her bedroom, think again! A 2012 study found that children having a TV in their room were more likely to have a higher waist circumference.

5. You’re labeling your child as “picky” Have you ever told another parent that your child is a picky eater? Simply labeling your child as picky could cause them to turn away from fruits and vegetables according to one study. The study showed that moms who labeled their child as “picky” had children who were less likely to try various types of produce and were actually less likely to eat fruits and vegetables themselves.

6. You think breakfast is for sissies Habitual breakfast in children is associated with  higher academic performance, a reduced risk for obesity and an increased intake of vitamins and minerals.

7. There’s no mealtime routine in your family … Eating as a family unit has been linked  with increased fruit and vegetable consumption and lower intakes of soft drink consumption. Further, adolescents who experience family meals often have a better diet as they head into adulthood.

Parents, it’s your job to help shape the taste buds, views about food and weight for life. That doesn’t mean your kid should never have a cookie. It just means that these foods shouldn’t be the norm. Teach your kids about which foods make them strong and which foods make them weak by using words and phrases they’ll understand such as “This salad will help you grow tall,” or “This apple makes mommy’s brain super strong.”

Most importantly, if your child already has a weight problem or less-than-perfect eating habits, it’s not too late to help him or her change. The step is recognizing the problem (few parents  actually do) and working together with your child to change behavior. I’m happy to keep my “non-fun” mom status if that means that I can help my son be a healthy eater and maintain a normal weight throughout his life. One day …perhaps he’ll realize just how “fun” being healthy, staying fit and avoiding sickness can really be.

 

6 thoughts on “7 Ways Parents Can Influence Risk of Obesity

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