Following a healthy lifestyle can help you prevent overweight and obesity. Many lifestyle habits begin during childhood. Thus, parents and families should encourage their children to make healthy choices, such as following a healthy diet and being physically active.
Make following a healthy lifestyle a family goal. For example:
- Follow a healthy eating plan. Make healthy food choices, keep your calorie needs and your family's calorie needs in mind, and focus on the balance of energy IN and energy OUT.
- Focus on portion size. Watch the portion sizes in fast food and other restaurants. The portions served often are enough for two or three people. Children's portion sizes should be smaller than those for adults. Cutting back on portion size will help you balance energy IN and energy OUT.
- Be active. Make personal and family time active. Find activities that everyone will enjoy. For example, go for a brisk walk, bike or rollerblade, or train together for a walk or run.
- Reduce screen time. Limit the use of TVs, computers, DVDs, and videogames because they limit time for physical activity. Health experts recommend 2 hours or less a day of screen time that's not work- or homework-related.
- Keep track of your weight, body mass index, and waist circumference. Also, keep track of your children's growth.
Led by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, four Institutes from the National Institutes of Health have come together to promote We Can!®—Ways to Enhance Children's Activity & Nutrition.
We Can! is a national education program designed for parents and caregivers to help children 8 to 13 years old maintain a healthy weight. The evidence-based program offers parents and families tips and fun activities to encourage healthy eating, increase physical activity, and reduce time spent being inactive.
Currently, more than 140 community groups around the country are participating in We Can! programs for parents and youth. These community groups include hospitals, health departments, clinics, faith-based organizations, YMCAs, schools, and more.
®We Can! is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Obesity happens one pound at a time. So does prevention.09/07/2012
This video—presented by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health—shows that even a few extra pounds can affect your health and life more than you may think. Average people in a park—not actors—are asked to carry a 10-pound sandbag, and report how the added weight affects them and their ability to carry out normal, everyday activities.