As parents, we all want what’s best for our kids, we want them to have long, healthy lives. The problem is that more and more children are well on their way to having lifelong health issues because they are overweight. The health problem of obese children is a growing concern in many parts of the world with estimates of the number of overweight children being as high as 1 in 3 in some places.

We all know that the longer someone is overweight the more prone they will be to a myriad of health concerns. Everything from cardiovascular disease to diabetes, to emotional problems such as depression and anxiety.

Despite the dire news, there is hope. Kids can learn to make better choices, but it will have to start with the parents. It takes an average of only 21 days to change a habit, that’s how long it will take your kids to learn better ways of eating. It’s important to remember that even the foods that we like are mostly from habit and that we can retrain ourselves, at least to a degree. Your kid may never like the taste of spinach, and that’s ok, but with some time they may find that an apple will satisfy their sweet tooth just as well as that ice cream used to.

Here are some things that you can start doing today that will help retrain your kids when it comes to what they eat and how much physical activity they get:

1. Show them, don’t just tell them. It’s tough as a parent to lead by example sometimes, but that’s what we have to do. It’s not enough to tell your kids they need more exercise or that they can’t have pizza and fast food several times a week, it’s up to you to make healthier choices and show your kids that you don’t expect them to do anything you’re not willing to do.

Set aside an hour everyday day (or a half-hour, or make it every other day) to spend some time together as a family getting some exercise. Don’t make it a chore or boring, instead make it something fun. Take the dog for a walk, go to your local park and fly a kite, go for a family bike ride. These activities will help your kids learn that physical activity can be fun and you will all get the added benefit of being able to spend more time together.

2. Don’t keep a lot of sweets in the house. When you go grocery shopping load up on healthy snacks such as fruits, vegetables, low-fat popcorn, nuts, raisins, etc. You may need to retrain yourself right along with your kids.

With so many very serious health problems of obese children, it’s important that we commit to helping our kids change their bad habits and replace them with good ones. Not only can we help our kids lead healthier lives, but we may also find that we too needed to make some changes.

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