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Good Nutrition and Physical Activity - Family Style

By Jodie Shield, M.Ed, RD, LD

More and more, parents are concerned about childhood obesity. Over the last decade, the number of overweight American children has more than doubled. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 60 percent of overweight children between the ages of five and ten have at least one risk factor for heart disease.

As a registered dietician and mother of three, I've developed some easy tips to help make exercise and good eating habits a part of your family's lifestyle.

Make the best use of the four food groups - bread, vegetables/fruits, meat and dairy. Ideally, children should eat the minimum recommended number of servings in each category: 6-11 servings of bread, 2-4 servings of fruits/vegetables, and 2-3 servings from the meat group. The exception to this is the dairy group. Children's growing bones need a great deal of calcium, so parents should aim for three or more servings daily. Live and active culture yogurt is an excellent food to meet this requirement. It's rich in calcium, a good source of protein, and it's convenient and versatile.

Daily physical activity is also critical. Try these tips to get your kids moving:

  • Be a role model: your child will exercise if you exercise;
  • Turn off the TV and the computer, and turn kids on to the great outdoors;
  • Bored with your backyard? Discover a new park or playground.

Remember - eating right and being physically active together as a family helps children develop healthy habits for a lifetime.