Childhood Obesity and Food: 10 Tips for Parents



Do you remember the food they served in your high school cafeteria?  Well, let me remind you: pepperoni pizza, French fries, cheeseburgers, hot dogs, etc.  The food served in American schools might as well be poison because it is killing children in the long run.  Here are some fun facts on children and obesity in the US:
– Type 2 diabetes, previously considered an adult disease, has increased dramatically in children and adolescents. Overweight and obesity are closely linked to type 2 diabetes

– Risk factors for heart disease, such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure, occur with increased frequency in overweight children and adolescents compared to children with a healthy weight.
While there are other factors that lead to children become obese (like genetics as well as the mother’s dietary habits during pregnancy), the main culprit seems to be food choice.  And more specifically the food choices parents make.  So, for example, many parents buy processed or already prepared foods as opposed to cooking from scratch or fresh fruits and vegetables.  There is also a heavy reliance on red meat and pork products, including hamburgers, bacon, hot dogs, etc.  
So, how can you change what your kids eat?  Start with these 10 quick tips:
1. Don’t allow your child to purchase lunch or breakfast from the school cafeteria.

2. Prepare lunch for your kids each and every day (including a fresh fruit, yogurt, nuts, and lean proteins).

3. Prepare breakfast for your kids each and every day (including oatmeal, eggs, toast and peanut butter, fruit, yogurt, etc.)

4. Try and eat together as a family at least once a day (the ritual of eating together can reinforce the importance of food)

5. Cook dinner from scratch and involve the whole family (show everyone how a meal is put together)

6. Experiment with foods at the market.  Most Americans eat poorly because they do not consider the abundance of food choices available.  Dinner doesn’t have to consist of pasta, red meat, and iceberg lettuce every week.  Most good markets carry wonderful fresh fish, beans that make wonderful soups, exotic greens that can be sautéed with garlic, lean cuts of meat like pork chops, chicken breast, and ground turkey.
7. Try and cut the time your kids spend with the TV, web, video games, cell phone (including messaging), etc. and encourage them to go outside and walk/hang out/play sports/etc.
8. According to experts, it takes multiple exposures to new foods before kids actually accept and enjoy the food or dish.  So, keep at it with your kids in terms of introducing new fruits, vegetables, and dishes.

9. Experiment with true ethnic foods as they tend to contain less salt and meat than your typical Italian-American, Chinese-American, and Mexican-American foods.

10. Bring your kids food shopping with you (and not just to your local Stop and Shop).  Bring your child to the butcher, fish monger, fruit and vegetable shop and they will slowly appreciate how important food is to the family.  


  1. I couldn’t agree more, Vinny! Growing up in our family the way we did definitely made me appreciate the value of a delicious, home cooked meal made from scratch.
    At first, it was hard to believe the statistics; its actually pretty upsetting to read, but a great eye-opener for sure.
    P.s. I always enjoy reading your blogs! =)

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  4. Even tho it seems this post is mainly about a kid’s diet, I cant help but ask you to emphasize the lack of today’s youth involved in physical activities. Physical activity alone by itself can decrease the chances of heart disease, diabetes, and all of their associated conditions — not to mention decrease the incidence of many cancers. Diet alone is great, but with activity and exercise — there is nothing better.

  5. Hi Rich,
    Yes, physical activity is key (it’s especially important in terms of increasing metabolism). If kids eat and “play” well, then they’ll burn calories more easily as adults!

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