Childhood Obesity: A Mom’s Perspective

By Cathy Wilson, PCC, BCC

As a concerned mom, I am very aware of the challenges of childhood obesity with my own kids. I’ve struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember and it wasn’t until my adult life that I’ve been successfully able to keep off 147 pounds. My husband has had the same challenges as well. Studies have shown that kids whose parents are overweight or obese are at much higher risk for becoming obese themselves. A study in the Journal of Pediatrics found five risk factors for childhood obesity. The main risk factor was parental obesity. Thankfully, I read these statistics when my kids were babies. I was aware and determined to do everything I could to make sure to introduce healthy eating and activity into our family.

Many kids today spend hours in front of a screen. Their screen time often includes watching television, playing video games, interacting with social media, and cruising the Internet. During this sedentary time, kids are also seeing unhealthy food and drink advertisements. The combination of the sedentary behavior and the increased likelihood of unhealthy snacking during that time is a very concerning risk factor for obesity.

In a company, leaders are the examples and establish the standards for staff. The same dynamic exists for families. Parents are the role models, the example for their children, and set the standards. As parents, if we eat healthy and incorporate activity into our regular routine, our children see that and it becomes the norm for them too. Our parental influence has a huge impact for behavior and habits in our kids.

Activity with your family is a double bonus for quality family time and building healthy habits that will last your children a lifetime. Here’s a few ways you can do just that:

  1. Change family traditions: Family traditions create bonds between family members. You can mix up current traditions for new ones that include activity. As an example, for Mother’s Day, we used to go to a nice restaurant for their Mother’s Day buffet. While I enjoyed being with my family, spending the first part of the day eating and the rest of it being overfull and uncomfortable, I changed the tradition by going on a family hike. We spend more quality family time together than we did at the huge buffet.
  1. Family outings: Instead of going to a movie, participate together in an activity. You could play laser tag, geocaching, the entire family can walk the dog together, swim, gardening, or parking far away from an errand and counting the steps with the goal to increase steps at each errand location. You can also skip the bus and walk your kids to/from school.
  1. Charity events as a family: As a family you could train for a charity walk or run. Check your local area for 5ks that the entire family could do together. There’s nothing like crossing the Finish Line as a family and seeing the accomplishment on the faces of your children. You’ll also teach your children how to become involved and help others.
  1. Family game night: Using the game system you probably have in your home, there are lots of games that require activity. Your family can move, laugh and have fun together in a competitive manner right in your home!
  1. Saturday morning cartoons: Instead of watching Saturday morning cartoons, take a Saturday morning bike ride. You could also spend Saturday mornings (or afternoons) bowling. This is much more fun, family togetherness with built-in activity. Look at how your family spends time and change up your routines.
  1. Family activities: Limit video game and television time and replace with going to the park, swim, play sports in your back yard, or have a hula-hoop and jump roping contest with your kids and kids in the neighborhood. Fly kites, roller skate, and introduce your kids to some of your favorite childhood games such as Red Rover, tag, hide and seek, or Frisbee. Introduce an activity tracker like a Zamzee, and celebrate milestones of minutes in the Zone and Pointz earned.
  1. Family vacations: When planning your vacation, make sure to include destinations where you can be active. In your hotel, is there a gym? Is there a park close by? Are there walking tour guides available so you can learn about your vacation destination? Schedule time for fun activities that your family will enjoy and remember.
  1. Family meals: Include your children when preparing meals. Teach them to cook and talk about the nutrients of the ingredients you’re using. As age appropriate, have them help with the preparations of a meal. One of my children hated broccoli until he helped me make a dish that contained broccoli. After he ate the dish he helped to prepare, he no longer hates broccoli.

Pushing away from the screen and fitting exercise into our lives doesn’t need to feel like a dreaded chore. Family fitness is a great way to strengthen family bonds along with improving the health of your family members. The activities your family does will be fun for all of you. As you incorporate family fitness and healthy nutrition in your daily lives, you’re also teaching your children about discipline, goal setting,  greater health, along with creating memories and build a better family connection that will last a lifetime.

Cathy Wilson, PCC-BCC, is the Director of Member Services and Support Groups at ObesityHelp.com. She also has her Pilot’s license, Paralegal certification and is a Professional Certified Coach, accredited through the International Coach Federation.

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