Want to fight childhood obesity? Start earlier than you think

3 years ago

My son is at that awkwardly perfect age where he is honest about other people's appearances. "Look, Mommy! That man is short," or "Why is that woman covered in wrinkles?" or "That person is fat!" have all been uttered by him at a decibel level usually reserved for jackhammers.

We try to mitigate this at home by celebrating people's difference. We focus on the differences between boys and girls. We talk about how Mommy has a lot of freckles or Pap-Pap's gray hair. We call these things beautiful (because they are). We should start to talk about sizes as well - both how we shouldn't point out other people's sizes and how to maintain a healthy size of our own.

It turns out that weight is a discussion that we need to have with our son sooner rather than later. As this article points out, a few recent studies have found that a child's "weight fate" is set by the time he was 5 years old.

That's a scary statistic. I can remember what I was doing at that age: A lot of playing outside and dance classes. Maybe that is why I wasn't a chubby kid.

So, let's think of some ways to help our children stay active:

  • Walk. I used to walk to school. Every day (uphill, both ways).
  • Chores. Especially ones that involve stairs.
  • Sports. Our new house has a fenced in yard that I am crazy excited about.
  • Adventures. I regularly create scavenger hunts in the house, I think I need to expand my thinking a bit.
  • Biking. My son is a little speed demon on his bike, and that is with the training wheels on!
  • Organized activities. Is my son too young for karate? Do I want my little ninja to acquire more skills?

What about in your family? How do you talk to your children about weight and keep them active? Tell me at Sorry, Mom. I didn't listen.

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