|Family matters in fight against childhood obesity
by Emily Self
According to the
2007-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES),
the childhood obesity rate has reached an estimated 17 percent of
children ages 2 to 17, an increase of 4 percent since 2000. percent of
children ages 2 to 17, an increase of 4 percent since 2000. It can be
hard for parents to know what to do amidst the growing media and
medical concern over this epidemic, but research shows there are tips
that can help.
On Nov. 9, the American Dietetic Association released the 2010 Family
Nutrition and Physical Sctivity Survey in which 1,193 pairs of
children and parents were asked about family influence, nutrition
knowledge, eating behaviors, and physical activity. Since 2003, the
number of family meals eaten at home has increased from 52 percent to
73 percent, a significant and positive change.
The survey also
shows that while parents and children know what not to eat, less than
25 percent could correctly
identify the foods they shol dbe eatin gthe most. When asked which food
group should be consumed in the highest amount, less then 25 perent of
families could correctly identify whole grains as the answer.
Clearly there is room for improvement.
Research shows that the way parents feed their children has a greater
impact on the fat mass of a child than actual dietary fat intake.
Parental attempts at encouraging or discouraging the intake of certain
foods may actually have a negative effect on the child’s eating
From infancy, children are remarkably adept at controlling their
overall energy intake from day to day. Many studies show that by
encouraging a child to eat, setting the “clean-your-plate” standard, or
restricting intake (how much, how often, or what a child eats), may
actually interfere with the child’s internal hunger cues. Perhaps one
of the most shocking predictors of increased fat-mass and body mass
index, or BMI, in children, especially girls, is increased television
viewing. BMI is a
ratio of height to weight and is used as a measurement of obesity in
children and adults. The American Dietetic Association found that
approximately one-fourth of children eat while watching TV. A study
conducted by Francis, Lee and Birch shows that “in families where
neither parent was overweight, television viewing was the only
significant predictor of girls’ increase in BMI.”
What does this mean for your dinner table?
- Children love to
be given the power of decision- making. Take your child to the grocery
store and let him or her pick out a new fruit or vegetable to try “for
- Talk with your
children about healthy foods away from the dinner table. Let them know
that all foods can fit into a healthy diet in moderation.
- Take note of your
own actions, preferences, body image, and eating behaviors.
- Keep meal times
positive, but do not use rewards for proper eating behavior. Do not
force-feed a child who refuses to eat. Wait until the next meal or
snack time to offer another healthy option.
Friday, Dec. 10, 2010