Spending Less Time from Watching TV and Eating Together could Maintain your Children / Kids Healthy Weight

Spending less time from watching TV and eating together could maintain your chil

Weight problems can be very hard to fix, so it's important to prevent the problem from happening in the first place.Children can't change their exercise and eating habits by themselves. They need the help and support of their families and other caregivers. This is why successful prevention and treatment of childhood obesity starts at home.

Childhood obesity is considered by many to be an "epidemic" in the Commonwealth Countries and the USA (especially the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia). Over 15% of American children are currently considered obese, and the number is growing.In an effort to combat obesity, the American Academy of Pediatrics is now recommending that all pediatricians measure a patient's body mass index annually, no matter if the child appears thin or chubby.

"Body mass index is a calculated measurement, taking into account the relationship between weight and height," explained Dr. Laura Finkelstein, a pediatrician at the University of Maryland Hospital for Children. "It can identify children who are obese and also those children who fail to thrive."

The normal BMI in children changes from year to year and boys and girls differ when it comes to BMI. New growth charts recommended for use along with the calculated BMI reflect those changes, giving pediatricians a valuable new tool.This recommendation comes at a time when about 15 percent of children are considered obese.

Many behaviors contribute to childhood obesity, whether it's the time spent in front of the TV or computer or the types and amounts of food eaten. These behaviors or habits are hard to change within a family, especially if members aren't ready, willing or able to make changes. Small, progressive steps can help.

Children who do not engage in frequent physical activity are much more likely to suffer from obesity. This is said to be due to the recent technological developments, including video games, computers, and mobile phones. Physically inactive children are unable to burn off the calories that they gain from eating. The body will store some or all of the unused energy as fat.

Spending more time around the family dinner table -- and less time in front of the TV -- can help prevent kids from getting fat, a new study shows.

Among 8,000 children followed from kindergarten to third grade, those who watched the most TV were at the greatest risk of being or becoming overweight, Dr. Sara Gable of the University of Missouri, Columbia and her colleagues found. And the fewer meals children ate each week with their families, the more likely they were to put on excess pounds.

One of the best things you can do for your child is to limit TV time. Instead, suggest playing tag, having foot races, skating and playing other active games. Encourage your child to join school and community sports teams. Take the whole family on walks and bike rides and to ball games.

"Families need to work together to help children maintain a healthy weight," Gable told Reuters Health in an e-mail message. "Even the simple things, like how often families eat together and the amount of time that children spend watching television, play a role in children's weight status."

To identify factors associated with being or becoming overweight, Gable and her team divided the 8,000 children who were participating in a national, long-term study into three groups: those who had never been overweight; those who began the study at a normal weight, but then became overweight; or those who were overweight throughout the study.

The risk of being persistently overweight increased by 3 percent for every additional hour a child spent watching TV each week, the researchers found, while each family meal missed per week increased the risk of persistent overweight by 8 percent. Living in a neighborhood perceived as unsafe for outside exercise also substantially increased the risk of being overweight.

Kids who stayed at a normal weight throughout the study watched 14.12 hours of TV a week, compared with 15.63 hours for those who became overweight and 16.09 hours for those who were overweight for the entire study period.

Children who did not become overweight ate 10.26 meals a week with their families, compared with 9.54 for children who became overweight and 9.57 for persistently overweight children.

While the actual percentages for increased risk were small, the investigators note that "even a small effect matters when the base rate of the phenomenon in question is as high as the prevalence of overweight in a general population." They add that 17% of the children in the current study were overweight by third grade.

"Children rely on parents to initiate such things as family mealtimes and to set limits on children's TV time," Gable told Reuters Health. "Teaching children about healthy habits requires the whole family's involvement; children are not going to learn these things on their own."

Rewards for successful behavior changes keep your family motivated and more inclined to stick to the plan. Make a list of how your family has succeeded in changing certain eating and activity habits. Then celebrate your success. Rewards should be consistent with the goal and be given regularly, such as on a daily or weekly


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