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How to Raise Healthy Eaters

Parents of overweight and obese children often put their youngsters on diets. But according to health and nutrition experts, doing so rarely works and may even be harmful. Healthy diets are important, but kids need more family time and exercise, and less TV and video-gaming. They also need rest and healthy food served at home.

The following suggestions can help you help your children attain and maintain a healthy weight.

Eat together

Interaction with family around the table is good for kids and parents alike.

Get adequate rest

Numerous studies demonstrate the link between weight gain and too little rest.

To help your children get enough sleep at night:

  • Cut their caffeine intake.

  • Set and enforce regular bed and wakeup times.

  • Be sure your child gets eight to nine hours of sleep a night.

Limit screen time

When children watch TV, their metabolism slows, their appetites increase, and they convert more calories to fat.

TV time isn't the only problem. Video games and computer time not used for schoolwork also contribute to a child's sedentary lifestyle.

Exercise daily

School-aged children should participate in at least 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity most days of the week. Serve as a role model for your child and make sure you get regular exercise yourself.

Improve nutrition

Good nutrition is the cornerstone of good health and healthy weight. To move your kids in the right direction:

  • Make sure half their calories are from "good" carbohydrates, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Limit highly processed carbohydrates, such as cookies, cakes, sodas, and chips.

  • Keep healthy snacks such as yogurt, fruits, and vegetables on hand instead of high-fat, high-sodium foods.

  • Include a quality protein at each meal, such as baked or grilled chicken.

  • Watch portion sizes.

  • Limit soft drinks and beverages high in sugar. Serve low-fat milk and water.

  • Limit fast food.