Nutrition and Exercise for Children

Facts and Suggestions of Improvement for Parents

Imitation of Eating Habits

Starting at a young age, children as young as 18 months tend to imitate the food choices of people they admire (adults and peers).
  • fats, oils, and salt should be used in low moderation
  • foods high in sugar should be avoided
  • serving healthy foods at a young age helps increase children's liking where offering sweets and soft drinks promotes milk avoidance
As children get older, eating habits begin to turn more to "wants" rather than "needs." Junk food is very popular in the puberty ages but with eating such unwholesome foods can lead to feeling sluggish whereas eating more nutritious foods can make kids feel better and focus more cognitively as well.

Weight gain and Factors Associated With It

In schools, physical education has decreased significantly where only 15% of elementary and middle schools provide some sort of PE 3 days/week and dropping to 3% in high schools.
  • 42% boys and 11% girls are active enough to be considered in good health
  • Activity would be measured by at least 1 hour per day
With such a low percentage of physical activity going on, it is said that 15% of children and adolescents these days are overweight and 3% are obese
  • parents are usually overweight causing the kids to join their eating habits (eating faster and chew food less thoroughly)
  • associated with Low Economic Status families
Factors contributing:
  • lack of knowledge about healthy dietary actions
  • buying high-fat, low-cost foods
  • family stress
  • not enough sleep
Childhood Obesity and Kids Nutrition PSA: Paper Dolls

Strategies in Prevention

Healthy eating behaviors, regular physical activity, and a reduced video game/ television activity is a start in getting children to a more prominent healthy lifestyle.
  1. Parents need to focus on good health, not necessarily specific weight goals
  2. Make daily eating and snacking times, such as family dinner at the table helps promote everyone eating approximately the same portions, healthy choices of food and coming together as family
  3. When engaging in physical activity, make sure the entire family participates
  4. Involve children in grocery shopping so teaching can be more interactive

Parents Participation in Learning About Health

According to research, it is said that 58% of mothers and 62% of fathers do not do any type of exercise throughout the day. With this statistic, how is it possible for kids to stay healthy and on top of physical activity when family does not partake in it either?
  • Family=powerful influence
  • Studies show that family participation in fitness and healthy dietary changes resulted in positive child behavioral changes
Activities done by both parents and children:
  • aerobic dance
  • bicycling
  • jogging and/or walking
  • jumping rope
  • swimming
Nutritional improvements:
  • preparing snacks that include fruits and vegetables
  • heart healthy meals
  • reading food labels
  • consuming high fiber and high energy foods
  • meat alternatives

MOTIVATION is KEY to everyone in the family!!!

  • Hopper, C. A., Munoz, K. D., Gruber, M. B., MacConnie, S., Schonfeldt, B., & Shunk, T. (1996). A school-based cardiovascular exercise and nutrition program with parent participation: An evaluation study. Children's Health Care, 25(3), 221-235.

  • Berk, L. (2010). Development Through The Lifespan (5th ed., pp. 221, 291-293, 439-441). Illinois: Allyn & Bacon.