Preventing Teen Obesity Is Actually Pretty Easy

kids playing ring around the rosieAccording to a new study published in Pediatrics, teen obesity could be cut back by 26% if teens would simply take part in more than one sport. Sounds simple enough, right?

Of course teens would stay in their target weight range more easily if they were participating in multiple sports but I also think there is an easier way to do this. I think, as parents, we need to change the status quo. We need to get back to basics and instead of figuring out a way to help our children lose weight, we need to practice some prevention.


As we become more technologically advanced, inevitably, we become more sedentary. Kids are spending a lot more time indoors sitting down, watching television, surfing the Internet on the computer, playing video games or just sitting around playing on their handheld devices, listening to iPods or texting one another. What needs to be happening is they need to be moving, not necessarily in sports but just being active? They need to be outside moving around -- riding bikes, playing in sprinklers, jumping rope, playing tag and swimming. I know it's not simple but does it really have to be this damn hard?

With the current state of the world and children being kidnapped and killed on a daily basis, it’s no wonder parents have taken to helicopter parenting. We become more cautious -- we don't let our kids play outside without supervision. And in a crazy busy world with full schedules, supervision is a luxury that some parents can’t always afford to provide.

We parents need to make spending "active time" with our children a priority. We have to stop letting the television and electronics babysit. It’s an easy trap to fall into. I'm definitely guilty of working while Dora occupies my toddler.

Eating at the dinner table together could not only provide healthier meal options but also allow us to be the example of a healthy lifestyle for our kids. If kids could play outside more, eat healthier food and not spend so much time sedentary engrossed in electronics teen obesity would have to dissipate.

Active and healthy children lead to less obese teens. When it gets to the point that we have let our children get overweight and then we are putting them on diets and forcing them to exercise it starts to feel like a punishment. Then it’s a problem. Then we have children who have low self-esteem and develop eating disorders. One of my biggest fears is that I drop the ball in providing a healthy example and then I have to go back and try to instill healthy habits when they are teens. How the hell does a parent do that without insulting the child or making them feel like they are not okay? I’d much rather just be the example; make the time to play outside, limit the sedentary time and share healthy meals as a family.

Do you encourage your kids to be active?


Image via Nir Nussbaum/Flickr

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