Medical experts have labeled teen obesity an epidemic, and it’s easy to see why. Teen obesity rates have tripled in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly one in five U.S. school-age children (6 – 19 years old) was obese between 2015 and 2016. Since the 1970s, the percentage of obese children has more than tripled. So how do parents prevent teen obesity?
While many parents feel ill-equipped to combat the rising tide, knowledge is your first tool in combatting it. And instead of being overwhelmed by statistics, focus on your own home first. There are many things you can do to encourage your children to make healthy dietary and lifestyle choices that will lower your child’s risk of becoming obese.
Rethink Portion Sizes
Over the last 20 years, food portions in restaurants across the United States have either doubled or tripled? Bloated portion sizes are now perceived as normal, and many families have increased their portion sizes at home as well. Encouraging kids and teens to eat too much food can skew the balance of the energy they take in versus the energy they put out, which puts them at a higher risk of obesity.
It can be hard to change your kids’ perception of the proper serving size, but it’s not impossible.
- Health.com suggests switching out your large dinner plates with smaller plates (between 9 – 10 inches in diameter).
- Pack healthy, reasonably-sized sack lunches for your kids.
- Enjoy snacks and treats in moderation; cut chocolate bars into smaller pieces instead of letting them eat the whole bar.
Eating smarter and controlling portion sizes can go a long way toward combatting obesity in your own home.
Remove Energy-Dense Temptations
You’re much more likely to indulge in unhealthy snacks if they’re right in front of you. Slash the sugar in your pantry. Replace the junk food with fresh fruits, multi-grain snacks (preferably homemade) and veggies that are chopped, rinsed and ready for snacking.
You don’t have to go cold-turkey. By slowly weaning your household off unhealthy snacks, it’s easier for kids to make the transition.
Make More At-Home Meals
It’s much easier to control the nutrition and calorie content of your food if you make it yourself. Although it’s convenient to order takeout, these meals are usually high in sugar and fat. Try to only enjoy them on special occasions.
Instead, focus on making nutritious and delicious food in your own home. Even adding a salad over French fries as a side dish can help. Getting teens involved in the process is a great way to teach them how to cook healthy foods — and this skill will serve them well throughout their lives.
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Trade Soft Drinks for Water
Sugary drinks are a major
If you’re not a fan of water or think it’s boring, liven it up by adding slices of fresh fruit or cucumbers to it. You can also make water seem more appealing by pouring it in fancy wine glasses or cute water bottles that your kids can carry around with them throughout the day.
Encourage Physical Activity
If your kids are mainly sedentary when they’re at home, make a change! An important part of staying fit and healthy is regular physical activity. You can make physical activity more fun by doing it as a family or by enrolling your child in a sport he or she likes.
These tips are all pretty easy to implement and can make a huge difference in the lives of your teens. Choose your favorite items from the list or implement them all today and kick teen obesity to the curb.