Obese Parents Can Keep Kids Healthy

Dear Reggie,
I am a 30 year old mother of a 4- year-old-boy and 6-year-old-girl. I am overweight and approaching the obesity limit based on my body mass index (BMI). My husband is a little overweight and carries some extra weight in his midsection. My parents are both overweight and my husband's family tends to be on the heavy side. Both kids carry a bit of a belly, but seem to be okay, so far. Are my kids doomed when it comes to their health based on their family history?

Mrs. Finley

Hello Mrs. Finley,
I would not worry about your kids having a bit of a belly at this age. If they were overweight all over, unable to play games at the playground or constantly lethargic, I would be concerned. As long as you ensure they stay active and instill in them healthy eating behaviours, they should be fine.

On the other hand, to ensure your kids break of the family pattern of being overweight, you need to be aware of cause and effect relationships theory of childhood obesity.

The Research

According to a study from Stanford University's School of Medicine, children of obese parents are at greatest risk of becoming overweight. One hundred and fifty children were included in the study, 74 boys and 76 girls. Researchers observed families from the day a child was born and measured factors including: the parents' weight the time of birth, the infant's weight, parent and child eating behaviours, the amount of child activity, the child's sleep time and the parents' concerns about their child's weight. By the age of nine and an half, 64 per cent of children with overweight parents were overweight, compared with 16 per cent of those of parents with a healthy a BMI.

Environment Is the Key

This type of research establishes a certain trend, but does not insist that over weight parents are destined to have overweight kids. Until we discover an obesity gene, we have to assume that your children are a product of the environment in which they are raised.

What Parents Need to Know

Understanding the major causes of childhood obesity is the best defense against a growing epidemic. Kids need a minimum 60 minutes-a-day of vigorous activity to maintain a healthy weight. For optimal health, they need to eat well-balanced meals, loaded with fresh fruits and vegetables and free of sugar and fat-filled snacks. Research has also found that obese kids sleep less than non-obese children.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.