Obesity rates in children have nearly tripled in the last 25 years, according to Childhood Obesity Foundation, a charity and leading Canadian authority on childhood obesity-related issues. Today, more than 26 percent of Canadian children and youth are considered overweight or obese and a new U.S. study is shifting the blame from junk food to parents. In an attempt to preserve their child’s self-esteem, parents may not know what to say, and as a result, may be preventing their children from knowing the health risks involved in carrying around the excess weight.
If you decide to talk to your kids about being overweight, be sure the conversation is centered on health benefits and positive reinforcement. Dr. David Katz of the MindStream Academy in South Carolina adds that a parent should “never send [their] kids the message that they need to lose weight, get thinner, look better.”
The best way to encourage a positive attitude towards weight loss and health? Lead by example! Here are a few tips from Strong4Life.com to help your family become healthier:
Reward with fun activities instead of junk food.
Never withhold food or activity as a punishment.
Involve your kids in planning, shopping and preparing meals.
Promote active play such as hopscotch, jump rope, tag or hide-and-go-seek.
An inspiration to get healthy
Mason Harvey from Guthrie, Oklahoma was tired of being overweight and getting bullied about it. Taking matters into his own hands, he took small steps to becoming healthy by hitting the gym and cutting pop, burgers and pizza. After losing an impressive 85 pounds, Mason has become an inspiration to his entire community and was even invited by American First Lady Michelle Obama to the White House. He’s also influenced his parents to improve their health and hit the gym. His father, Michael, says Mason’s voice is constantly in his head telling him not to give up, saying “Don’t quit! Keeep ooooon truckin!”
Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, July 2012.