Establishing Healthy Eating Habits Early

Studies have shown that families of patients who have bariatric surgery can also have health benefits from their relative’s surgery. Often this is because when a person has bariatric surgery, they make lifestyle changes like eating healthier food and cooking at home often. Whether or not anyone in the family has had bariatric surgery, there are choices we can all make to improve the health of kids. A new study gives us more information about one of these important improvements: eating vegetables. If you have kids, you probably have experienced that getting kids to eat veggies can be a battle. The battle is worth it, say the study authors; a healthy diet promotes success in life — better concentration and alertness, better physical health that translates into good mental and emotional health.

Study author Paula Peters, associate professor of human nutrition at Kansas State University, said, “Give the child a wide variety of healthy food options and let her choose which and how much to eat. A child may start by eating nothing or eating too much, but she has an innate ability to know when she’s hungry and when she’s full.” Children can also learn to make healthy food choices by involving them in grocery shopping and age-appropriate food prep and cooking. Other tips include focusing on serving nutrient dense, rather than calorie dense foods, and to avoid using food as a reward for good behavior.

Childhood obesity is particularly concerning because it can open up the door to a host of other illnesses down the road including diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma and sleep apnea.  Recent data says that one in four children ages 2 to 5 is overweight or obese. Experts say that parents should avoid putting a child on a diet, even if he or she is slightly overweight. It can set the child up for issues such as eating disorders later in life. Instead, parents should focus on offering healthier food options and increasing physical activity. Starting on vegetables early can be a good step in this direction.

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