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Overweight Teens and Kids: Advice for parents


An estimated 20 - 25 percent of Australian children and teens are overweight - more than one million children and teens. A number of factors are at the root of this dramatic and unwanted "growth spurt".

Computers, video games, and TV have all increased sedentary behaviour and decreased the physical activity level of young people. The snacking habits that accompany tech-entertainment have become more and more common, while TV advertising consistently reinforces the idea that a meal consists of a burger and fries, or a bag of chips and a chocolate bar.

So what can parents do to get their children on the right nutritional track and give them the tools to build a healthy lifestyle? Read on for some good advice.



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Taking the lead


If you're a parent, your best chance of influencing your children toward a healthy lifestyle is by setting a good example with your own eating and exercise habits. 

According to Mayo Clinic studies, “children of parents who both exercise are about six times more likely to be active than are children whose parents are sedentary.”  The studies also show that a child has a 50 percent chance of obesity if one parent is obese and 80 percent if both are.

If you know your household could do with some healthy changes, start small by introducing healthy snacks and replacing some TV time with outdoor recreational activities - even something as simple as a walk to the park or some time throwing a ball around can set the pace for a better lifestyle.

Always be available and encouraging yourself, and remember to play fair. For instance, when you limit your kids' TV time, limit your own as well. Parents set the bar, and kids will notice if they chin up to it!


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