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Whose fault is it that our kids are overweight?


Spend more time outside

There has been a trend for many years now to blame the government, society, heredity, global-warming, meteor showers, etc. - basically anyone but ourselves - for any problems that we might have. Accountability seems to be an uncommon quality these days. Obesity is a huge problem in this country and in others as well, but who is to blame? More importantly, what can be done about it?

Make it easier to snack on healthy foods

 Growing up years ago, there were very few overweight kids. The main differences in our lifestyle then and now are that we didn't have computers or video games and there wasn't much to watch on t.v., so we did our homework after school and then went outside, rode our bikes, walked, played afterschool sports, etc. Junk food wasn't prevalent, either; candy was mainly for holidays, and school lunches were actually balanced meals. Sack lunches didn't include "luncheables" or candy; they usually consisted of a sandwich, a piece of fruit and maybe a cookie, if any sweets were included at all.

With the hectic lives that most of us lead, it is difficult to find the time to prepare healthy meals and snacks. It's just plain easier to eat junk - it's convenient, it's cheap, and it tastes good (especially when you're tired and hungry). 

Limit television and computer time

Here are some suggestions to help keep your children fit and healthy:

• Limit television and computer time. Pediatricians recommend that children spend no more than 2 hours per day on the computer or watching t.v.

• Spend more time outside. Fort Collins is an extremely active, vibrant community where one can find people hiking, biking, walking dogs, etc. no matter how cold it is outside. Admittedly, it can take some effort to extract the kids from the warmth of the couch, but after spending some time outside blowing off steam, they will be reenergized and it will be easier for them to concentrate on their homework.

• Make it easier to snack on healthy foods. Keep a bowl of fruit accessible at all times. Put a tray of chopped veggies and dip out after school for snacking. Don't stop at the usual baby carrots, celery, broccoli and cauliflower - also try turnips, jicama, beets, etc. (I recently let my kids try raw beets for the first time - and they loved them! Go figure! I can't even force myself to eat those.)

• Enroll the kids in afterschool sports, if you are financially able. If not, make a rule that they have to spend an hour per day doing something active - biking, rollerblading, jumping on the trampoline, or even working out with a dvd. Some days an hour will not be possible, but it's good to aim high.

• Ensure that the kids are drinking plenty of water. Children over 2 should be drinking reduced fat milk. Fruit juice and pop should only be offered as occasional treats.

• Break the junk food habit. Don't keep chips, pop, candy, etc. in the house. It's just too tempting, for adults as well as children.

With a little effort and consistency, it is possible to teach your children how to lead a healthier lifestyle. Another bonus is that if you and the kids eat healthier and exercise more, you will all feel better and have more energy to help carry you through those hectic days.

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