Prevention: Diet


Lt Col Phillips
In many cases, childhood obesity can be prevented and a healthy diet is key. Dr. Bethea, what diet recommendations can you make to parents?

Dr. Bethea
Well, Dr. Phillips, there are many approaches that parents can take to encourage healthy eating. Some of those include:

  • Serving plenty of fruits and vegetables
  • Buying fewer soft drinks and high-fat, high-calorie snack foods
  • Making sure your child eats a nutritious breakfast every day
  • Preparing and eating meals as a family
  • Reducing the frequency of eating out, especially at fast food restaurants
  • Not using food as a reward for good behavior or incentive to stop bad behavior, and
  • Making sure your child knows they’re loved and supported

Although it’s important to limit your child’s intake of high-fat and high-sugar foods, it can also be counterproductive to talk about these as “bad foods” or completely eliminate them from your child’s diet. Forbidden foods are often more tempting, and so, given the opportunity kids may tend to overeat them when they’re with other people.

Many parents maintain a clean-plate policy, where kids are not allowed to leave the table until they’ve finished everything on their plate. This may be considered polite, but it could be teaching your child to overeat. It’s important to be aware of kids’ hunger cues. Don’t force children to continue eating if they are full. Instead, teach kids to listen to their bodies’ cues and only eat when they’re hungry.