If you haven’t noticed a national push to lower childhood obesity rates, then you’re not paying attention. Major cities and school districts are trying new approaches in their lunchrooms, and programs like First Lady Michelle Obama’s anti-obesity campaign, Let’s Move, are encouraging parents to get their kids fit.
Some areas of the country already are achieving success. Last month, The New York Times reported how major U.S. cities like Philadelphia and Los Angeles are seeing slight reductions in their school district’s childhood obesity rates, based on these initiatives.
Unfortunately, no such successes have been seen in the Dallas-Fort Worth area or throughout Texas. In fact, one in five children in Texas are obese. But success can start in your own home.
Tips to Curb Childhood Obesity
Our childhood obesity expert, Ximena Lopez, M.D., with the Endocrinology Center at Children’s, took some time to share with us the three most important things parents can do to prevent obesity in their children or help overweight children lose weight.
1. Avoid high-calorie foods and foods made from corn syrup. Corn syrup has fructose, which studies have shown increases the risk of metabolic syndrome, a group of conditions that further increases the risk of developing heart disease and diabetes.
Examples: Juice, candy, soda, processed foods, fast foods. Be diligent. Foods that you wouldn’t expect, like animal crackers, ketchup, applesauce and macaroni and cheese, can contain corn syrup.
2.Watch what your kids are eating at school and consider sending them with a prepared lunch. Check out this blog for great ideas for ways to prepare healthy school lunches.
3. Keep them active. Kids should be active for at least 60 minutes every day. “Enroll your kids in sports or take them to the park. PE at school is just not enough,” Dr. Lopez said.
Leave us a comment to tell us how many of these tips you and your kids follow at home.