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How Can Overweight and Obesity Be Prevented?

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.

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® We Can! is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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Clinical trials are research studies that explore whether a medical strategy, treatment, or device is safe and effective for humans. To find clinical trials that are currently underway for Overweight and Obesity, visit www.clinicaltrials.gov.


Overweight and Obesity in the News

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NIH and the Children's Museum of Manhattan launch innovative program to help families create healthier futures
Through an innovative public-private partnership, the National Institutes of Health and the Children's Museum of Manhattan (CMOM) have created a new health educational curriculum — EatPlayGrow: Creative Activities for a Healthy Start — for children ages 2-5 and their parents

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NHLBI Research Featured in HBO Documentary Series on Obesity



Hear people talk about their challenges and successes reaching and maintaining a healthy weight on the HBO Documentary Films series, “The Weight of the Nation,” which premiered in May 2012.

The film series spotlights the science behind obesity and how it affects the health of the nation. Watch the series to learn how citizens, groups, and policymakers are working to make a difference in their communities. The films stream free on the HBO Web site.

To learn more about the film series and related public awareness campaign, including how to host a local screening go to www.nih.gov/health/
NIHandweightofthenation
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July 13, 2012 Last Updated Icon

The NHLBI updates Health Topics articles on a biennial cycle based on a thorough review of research findings and new literature. The articles also are updated as needed if important new research is published. The date on each Health Topics article reflects when the content was originally posted or last revised.