BOX 8-1

Recommendations for the Home from Preventing Childhood Obesity: Health in the Balance

Parents should promote healthful eating behaviors and regular physical activity for their children.


To implement this recommendation parents can

  • Choose exclusive breastfeeding as the method for feeding infants for the first 4 to 6 months of life.

  • Provide healthful food and beverage choices for children by carefully 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 in what portion size.

  • Encourage and support physical activity.

  • Limit children’s television viewing and other recreational screen time to less than two hours per day.

  • Discuss weight status with their child’s health care provider and monitor age-and gender-specific body mass index (BMI).

  • Serve as positive role models for their children regarding eating and physical activity behaviors.

SOURCE: IOM (2005).

represents a setting that is particularly relevant to the prevention of childhood obesity. Parents and families can respond to policy changes and initiatives implemented in other settings. For example, if communities develop safe walkways and bikeways or initiate neighborhood farmers markets, parents can encourage family involvement in physical activity or purchasing fresh produce in these settings. If industry creates healthier calorie-controlled packaged foods and beverages, then adults and adolescents can purchase these products and work to ensure that nutrition is a priority when they plan meals for their families.

Parents can serve as advocates to promote changes that encourage and support healthy choices in their children’s schools and communities as well as in their homes. Parents’ Action for Children, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the interests of families and children, suggests that parents get involved in their children’s school wellness programs (Mansukhani, 2005).

Other useful resources that provide guidance to parents are the Parents as Teachers National Center (2005), which works to expand parents’ knowledge of early childhood development and to improve parenting practices, as well as the resources and support provided by the national Parent



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