Teaching Children Healthy Eating Habits

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According to the American Heart Association (2006), seven percent of preschool age children in 1994 were overweight. The most recent report done in 2002, says that now 10 percent of preschool age children have weight problems. Alan Greene, MD, FAAP (2006), a WebMD expert, said the following: It’s more than a million overweight kids before they start elementary school. And the number swells to 4 million during the elementary school years. Our kids deserve to be taught to truly enjoy eating healthy amounts of healthful foods, and to enjoy, to revel in, active play – preferably before the bad habits even start. Elias Zerhouni, MD (2005), director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) had this to say: We need to act now to prevent obesity in our children. Obesity is a high priority at NIH. This year, we will spend about $440 million on a range of research on this important problem. Dr. Linda Van Horn, PhD, RD (2005), professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University agrees: You can raise a child to enjoy healthy eating and to be selective about food choices. Habits developed in childhood will hopefully last throughout their lives. With the right guidance and nutrition education, children learn to prefer healthy foods such as carrots and raisins or cereal as snacks, for example. Children who develop healthy eating habits early in life are less likely to have weight problems in the future. Here are some ways to help children develop good eating practices. Do not use food as a weapon. According to Melinda Sothern, PhD, co-author of Trim Kids (2003), using food as a reward “could create weight problems later in life.” Instead, celebrate with a fun physical activity, like a game of tag or a bike ride in the park. Using food to show love or appreciation can also create problems later in life. Try saying thank you with a hug
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