I’m concerned about my children’s eating and physical activity levels. How can I help improve their habits?

The things children learn when they are young are hard to change as they get older. This is true for their eating and physical activity habits. Many children have a poor diet and are not very active. They may eat foods high in calories and fat and not eat enough fruits and vegetables. They also may watch TV, play video games, or use the computer instead of being active.

Kids who are overweight have a greater chance of becoming obese adults. Overweight children may develop weight-related health problems like high blood pressure and diabetes at a young age. You can find out if your child is overweight or obese by using the Body Mass Index for children and teens.

You can help your child build healthy eating and activity habits.

  • Limit time spent watching TV, playing video games, and using the computer.
  • Make sure your child is physically active for 1 hour each day.
  • Find out about activity programs in your community.
  • Ask your children what they like to do and what they’d like to try, like Little League Baseball or a swim team.
  • Plan activities for the whole family — like hiking, walking, or playing ball.
  • Help your children eat healthy foods.
  • Have your children plan and cook healthy meals with you.
  • Don’t do other things while you eat, like watch TV.
  • Give your kids healthy snacks, like fruits, whole-grain crackers, and vegetables.
  • Limit your trips to fast-food restaurants.
  • Involve the whole family in healthy eating. Don’t single out your children by their weight.

We know children do what they see — not always what they are told. Set a good example for your children. Your kids will learn to eat right and be active by watching you. Setting a good example can mean a lifetime of good habits for you and your kids.

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