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Want to fight childhood obesity? Start earlier than you think

My son is at that awkwardly perfect age where he is honest about other people's appearances. "Look, Mommy! That man is short," or "Why is that woman covered in wrinkles?" or "That person is fat!" have all been uttered by him at a decibel level usually reserved for jackhammers.

We try to mitigate this at home by celebrating people's difference. We focus on the differences between boys and girls. We talk about how Mommy has a lot of freckles or Pap-Pap's gray hair. We call these things beautiful (because they are). We should start to talk about sizes as well - both how we shouldn't point out other people's sizes and how to maintain a healthy size of our own.

It turns out that weight is a discussion that we need to have with our son sooner rather than later. As this article points out, a few recent studies have found that a child's "weight fate" is set by the time he was 5 years old.

That's a scary statistic. I can remember what I was doing at that age: A lot of playing outside and dance classes. Maybe that is why I wasn't a chubby kid.

So, let's think of some ways to help our children stay active:

  • Walk. I used to walk to school. Every day (uphill, both ways).
  • Chores. Especially ones that involve stairs.
  • Sports. Our new house has a fenced in yard that I am crazy excited about.
  • Adventures. I regularly create scavenger hunts in the house, I think I need to expand my thinking a bit.
  • Biking. My son is a little speed demon on his bike, and that is with the training wheels on!
  • Organized activities. Is my son too young for karate? Do I want my little ninja to acquire more skills?

What about in your family? How do you talk to your children about weight and keep them active? Tell me at Sorry, Mom. I didn't listen.

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Comment by Lauren Markman on February 18, 2014 at 8:54pm

Thanks for sharing, Marcia! I love the open floor plan - our new house definitely gives us more room to play around in and stretch out a bit. I was just kidding about the karate - my job is to chase him around :)

Comment by Marcia Fowler on February 18, 2014 at 7:57pm

We try to walk to school, although this winter we haven't too much. We've never had a coffee table in the house. Instead, our rooms have always been open enough to be very active in. Couch cushions are always ready to be used to jump on , same with beds.. Kids are always welcome to do yoga dvds with me, we try to bike as a family, swim and just do a lot of playing. I'm the mom on the playground no matter how cold or hot. We limit screen time, limit junk food, My youngest loves to eat, so it can be a challenge, But we always stress how important exercise is.As for your son and karate, my thought is always if it takes longer to drive to the sport than it does to do the sport, it's not worth it. Otherwise, definitely.

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