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Parents can help decrease childhood obesity

Published On: Feb 21 2012 03:51:47 PM CST   Updated On: Sep 04 2012 03:26:44 PM CDT
Family eating dinner

iStock / 4774344sean

(NewsUSA) - Children have become much less active, contributing to the growing childhood obesity epidemic that's affecting neighborhoods across the country.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years. The prevalence of obesity among children ages six to 11 years increased from 6.5 percent in 1980 to 19.6 percent in 2008. Additionally, rates have increased from 5 percent to 18.1 percent among adolescents ages 12 to 19 years.

"The incidence of childhood obesity in the United States and its consequences are devastating," says Dr. Richard Visser, the Minister of Health for Aruba and a childhood obesity researcher and educator. "We really have to do something to help the next generation, and we have to start with the parents."

Recently, Boys & Girls Clubs of America teamed up with the Kimberly-Clark Corporation to produce the first-ever Family Strengthening Virtual Symposium, where Dr. Visser led a powerful session entitled "Our Kids Supersized: How to Prevent Childhood Obesity and Promote Healthy Weight in Youth."

Dr. Visser suggested that parents' lifestyles predetermine the weight and health of their children. He offered parents and caregivers the following tips for healthier families:

* Eat breakfast every day, and enjoy smaller-portioned snacks several times throughout the day.

* Avoid food that contains excessive fat or simple sugars.

* Eat together. Communal eating encourages healthier eating habits.

* Feed kids only when they're hungry, and eliminate snacking in front of the TV or while playing video games.

* Make sure children get at least 60 minutes of vigorous physical activity every day, and limit electronic device use to no more than two hours per day.

"Getting parents to commit to a healthier lifestyle will greatly impact the lives of their children -- from eating right to exercising -- it's an educational process and lifestyle change that needs to happen."

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