The health and well-being of children have a strong impact on their health in adulthood. Being overweight or obese in childhood increases the chances of suffering from obesity in adulthood, which in turn increases the risk of chronic non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, dyslipidemia (high cholesterol), and other health problems.
Childhood obesity is a complex and multifaceted health problem, which occurs when children are well above a healthy weight for their age and height. The causes that provoke it are similar to those of adults, among which are genetic, environmental, and behavioral factors. In behavior, bad eating habits, not getting enough physical activity, and spending too much time in sedentary activities stand out.
We must keep in mind that children are in an important stage of growth and development; therefore, good eating habits achieved at this stage will have repercussions throughout their lives, helping them to make good decisions about their nutrition and health in the future.
Improving eating habits or even increasing the taste for some foods in children may sound quite complicated, however, it is possible. The best place to start is by recognizing that OUR eating habits, as parents, are the main influence on children.
Some recommendations for healthy eating habits in children are
- Eat 4 to 5 meals a day and establish regular meal times
- Increase consumption and a variety of fruits and vegetables
- Eat a variety of whole foods and have healthy snacks available
- Promote the consumption of water as the main source of hydration
- Daily meals with the family, with enough time to enjoy the company and the food
- Regular physical activity
- Respect children’s lack of appetite
Tips to achieve better eating habits
- Set the example; if you want children to eat and accept different fruits and vegetables, make sure they see you eating them
- Involve children in food shopping and preparation (this will motivate them to try new foods)
- Avoiding the use of screens during meal times
- Limit the purchase of ultra-processed foods, do not have fried foods and sweets easily accessible in your home
- Try to make healthy versions of foods they enjoy
- Serve adequate portions
- Do not reward or punish with food, avoid giving an emotional value to these foods
- Look for activities that can be done as a family and join them in physical activity.