Thursday, September 26, 2013

Decrease Childhood Obesity by Eating as a Family

A few weeks ago I was contacted by Tammy, from She proposed reaching out to my readers as a guest blogger. After reading up about her organization, I had to say yes! Healthline Networks has realized the importance of delivering rich, easy-to-understand health information to help people make better decisions about their health. 

The following post is close to my heart.  My whole life's mission is about getting families back to the kitchen and eating together as a family.  I believe that it is one of the keys to ending childhood obesity.  It all starts in the home.

In recent years, childhood obesity has turned into a national health care crisis. There is an increased risk of obesity in adolescents and adults when they are overweight as preschoolers. There is also an increased risk for chronic conditions such as high cholesterol (hyperlipidemia), hypertension, sleep apnea, asthma and emotional problems including depression and low self-esteem.

The rate of childhood obesity is so high that it is believed parents will outlive their children. The risk of childhood obesity can be reduced and the self-esteem and quality of life that your child has increased when parents take action to reduce the risk.

Planning Meal Time to Prevent Childhood Obesity 
● Control the sizes of portions 
● Do not supersize foods when eating out 
● Stay away from children’s menus 
● Don’t buy junk food or soda’s, limit juice to half a cup each day 
● Eat in the dining room or kitchen and nowhere else 
● Make children ask to have a snack – don’t offer unless it is fruit or a veggie 
● Eat as a family
● Set a specific meal time
● No television during meals
● Do not nag children about food 

When planning meals or having a family dinner outing, it is important to pay attention to the size of the portions that you are eating. Most people put too much on their plate and feel obligated to eat it. Reducing the sizes of portions and adding variety to the plate will help to prevent overeating. When you eat out with your family, it is best to avoid the children’s menu because it contains the unhealthiest choices. Do not supersize foods, it simply gives you a little more to feel obligated to eat. 

Set a specific meal time to sit down and eat as a family turning off distractions such as the TV so that you are focusing on spending time with each other. Distractions can make you eat more than you would without them. You will be absently putting food into your mouth without realizing what you are doing. Take this time to encourage your children and make sure that they have a variety of healthy choices in front of them. 

When you shop for groceries, you can take steps to prevent childhood obesity. Leave sodas and junk foods at the store. Your children cannot eat them if they do not have access to them, buy fresh fruits and vegetables for them to snack on. Make your children part of the grocery planning and they will be able to see how what you buy fits together for a healthy meal. When presenting meals use smaller dishes that will give the illusion that portions are larger than they actually are. 

You can use mealtime as a way to reconnect with your children. Eating together gives you the chance to catch up on what everyone did that day. Being involved and encouraging your children will go a long way to prevent them from overeating, which will reduce their risk of childhood obesity. 

Tammy Mahan has been a nurse for over 20 years. In her free time, she contributes articles to


  1. Most of the time when we eat out, my son eats a half sized adult portion or shares mine but if we go for pizza he does have the child menu. To be honest I wish we'd not got into the habit of it because although the pizza itself isn't crazy bad, having the menu means he ends up having ice cream too.

  2. I agree this is a big issue. I also think it's really important for kids to stay seems like nowadays kids are less likely to be outside playing and are spending more time with tv and video games. My kids do love sports and we are a very active family so fortunately this has never been an issue for us. But it definitely worries me because it creates a whole set of potential health problems that kids shouldn't be having to worry about. Great tips here! Thank you for linking up with us at LOBS!

  3. I have lived this way with my kids and they eat a great variety of food and I don't think weight will ever be an issue for them. Thanks for sharing this with us on foodie friday.