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Preventing Childhood Obesity: Health in the Balance
that schools conduct periodic assessments of students’ weight status and provide the resulting information to parents—and to the children themselves, as age-appropriate.
Home environments that support healthful eating and physical activity are important in helping children maintain energy balance at a healthy weight. Preventing childhood obesity starts with a healthful diet and lifestyle at conception and throughout pregnancy and is promoted by exclusive breastfeeding during infancy. As discussed throughout this chapter, parents can ensure that healthful foods are available in the home and that healthful eating behaviors (e.g., family meals, limited snacking, and portion control) are promoted. Older children and youth must be aware of their own eating habits and activity patterns and engage in health-promoting behaviors. By being supportive of their children’s athletic and other interests in physical activity and by encouraging children to play outside, parents can enhance opportunities for moderate to vigorous physical activity and promote physical fitness. Furthermore, parents can set a good example for their children by modeling healthful eating behaviors and being physically active. Parents can also be effective advocates by becoming involved in efforts in their neighborhoods, schools, and community to improve neighborhood safety and to expand the access and availability of opportunities such as recreational facilities, playgrounds, sidewalks, bike paths, and farmers’ markets (Chapters 6 and 7).
Parents should promote healthful eating behaviors and regular physicalactivity for their children.
To implement this recommendation parents can:
Choose exclusive breastfeeding as the method for feeding infants for the first four to six months of life
Provide healthful food and beverage choices for children bycarefully considering nutrient quality and energy density
Assist and educate children in making healthful decisions regarding types of foods and beverages to consume, how often, and inwhat portion size
Encourage and support regular physical activity
Limit children’s television viewing and other recreational screentime to less than two hours per day