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Obesity and kids eating away from home

Sarah Walker Caron is an award winning journalist, freelance writer and editor. She lives a happy life in Maine with her two children, where they love to hike, visit the beaches and have lots of silly fun. Check out her food blog at Sara...

What are your kids eating?

Working parents have to rely on friends and family to help care and feed their children as families struggle to make ends meet. But are those helpful times sending your child down a road to obesity? It's possible, says one researcher.
What are your kids eating?
A new study by Guadalupe X. Ayala, a public health researcher at San Diego State University, revealed that children who eat at relatives', neighbors' or friends' houses at least once a week have a higher risk of obesity. The finds were published in Obesity, a research journal. Approximately one in three children are obese, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Ayala said that eating in restaurants at least once a week also increases children's risk of obesity, as well as their parents' risk.

The study, which looked at children in grades kindergarten through second in 13 south California elementary schools, showed that Latino children may be at the most risk because of their family-oriented nature. "Latinos appear to rely on friends and family for support and childcare more than other cultures do," Ayala said.

What can you do?

Ayala says that parents need to be open and honest with friends and family who are helping to care for kids abut what they want the kids to be eating. "Encourage the caretakers to reinforce at-home food rules and to negotiate what food is available to your child," Ayala said.

But sometimes, that just isn't enough. You can also offer to help out the helper by supplying foods and drinks for while your children are over. Select fresh fruits, vegetables, and healthy drinks.

It's important that kids eat fresh fruits and vegetables to develop healthy eating habits young and also avoid the risk of obesity. A study by Produce for Kids (PFK) revealed that only 18 percent of children in the U.S. eat three fruits and vegetables a day. Thirty-eight percent eat two servings, according to the study. For the remaining 43 percent though, it's one serving or less each day.

"The increased consumption of fruits and vegetables can help kids to achieve a healthy weight and improve their overall health," said Dr. Keith-Thomas Ayoob, pediatric nutritionist and associate professor, Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Which foods?

Stick to easy to snack on fruits and vegetables like baby carrots, bananas and grapes. Cut up pieces of pineapple and whole berries are also a delicious snack. Easy and healthy dips can be crafted out of yogurt as well. Use the internet to your advantage to seek out healthy kids recipes.

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