Experts share 7 practical ways to keep kids a healthy weight

Apr 12, 2013

Credit Healthy Lunch Ideas / Flickr

We all know the way to a healthy body is a balanced diet and exercise. But we also know that’s easier said than done. However, with almost one-third of Missouri children ages 10 to 17 overweight or obese, it’s becoming more and more important to instill healthy habits young.

This week on Intersection, two dietitians and an exercise expert shared doable tips for parents to keep kids on the right track.

  1. Eating right is more effective than exercise
    “You can definitely out-eat your exercise,” said Steve Ball, associate professor at the MU Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology.

  2. Make healthy eating interactive and fun
    Parents can take their children shopping for fruits and veggies and involve them in the preparation of a healthy meal to get them excited about good nutrition, dietitian Kayla Otteson said.

  3. A TV in the bedroom is a recipe for weight gain
    Eighty percent of the patients at the Adolescent Diabetic Obesity Program have a TV in their bedrooms, said Aneesh Tosh, director of the program at the MU Children’s Hospital. “We know there are many risk factors,” he said. “Having a TV in the bedroom correlates with a sedentary lifestyle and eating while watching TV.”

  4. “Active” video games don’t do much
    “We have patients who ask about the Wii and the Kinect, but typically the games they’re playing are not leading to significant calorie production,” Tosh said. These games shouldn’t be written off, but “it shouldn’t replace normal play,” Ball said. “It’s not enough.”

  5. Be watchful of “celebrations” -- they add up
    “On average, 40 times a year for birthdays and Easter, (et cetera)... parents will bring in cookies and cupcakes (to classrooms),” Ball said. More and more, schools have been providing parents with information on bringing healthy snacks to school, he said.

  6. Cutting out sugary drinks is a simple way to promote weight loss
    “The only things a child or adolescent should be drinking are water or milk,” Tosh said.

  7. Because children have different ability levels, parents should focus on promoting a healthy lifestyle, not reaching an end result“We have to promote the process of physical activity, not the product of fitness,” Ball said. 

Ball, Tosh and Otteson spoke with KBIA on Intersection earlier this week. View the program and follow us on Twitter.

Catch Intersection on KBIA every Monday at 2 p.m. to hear experts discuss Mid-Missouri issues. Next week’s topic: Drop-out rates and the achievement gap in Columbia.