5 Healthy Ways Mothers Can Reduce Childhood Obesity
By Sandy Schroeder
Most of us are quick to speak up when we see our kids eating too much junk food, but our actions may speak much louder than our words when it comes to obesity.
HarvardHealth researchers say mothers can reduce the risk of their children being obese by simply adopting these five healthy habits for their own lives.
- Eat a healthy diet
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Exercise on a regular basis
- Keep alcohol at a moderate level
- Do not smoke
Mothers who follow these rules reduce the risk of childhood obesity by 75 percent compared with others who do not follow these guidelines. As children grow, if both mothers and children follow these rules, the reduction in obesity jumps to 82 percent.
Nurture Wins Over Nature
The Harvard researchers say a person’s genetic profile is involved in body weight, but when it comes to obesity nurture seems to play a much larger role.
Dr. Qi Sun, a senior study author and associate professor of nutrition, explained what the researchers found. Sun said, "Our study was the first to demonstrate that an overall healthy lifestyle really outweighs any individual healthy lifestyle factors followed by mothers when it comes to lowering the risk of obesity in their children.”
Fighting the Trend
When we look around, it is apparent we are in the midst of an obesity surge. Both adults and children in our society can be seen toting a few extra pounds as they hover over cell phones and camp out on the couch, or sit all day at school or work. According to researchers, 1 in 5 children, ages 6 to 19 are obese. This means they face an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, some cancers, and other chronic diseases.
In another related study involving 17,000 mothers and 24,000 children ages 9-18, the same issues were evolved. The researchers found mothers who had a healthy body mass index (BMI) of 18.5 to 24.9 showed a 56 percent lower risk of childhood obesity, compared to mothers who were overweight. The mothers in this group who did not smoke were linked to a 31 percent lower risk of obesity in their children, compared to the mothers who did smoke.
If these figures play out just as you expected, you may already be sitting down to healthy suppers with your family and walking or biking with them on a regular basis. You may also not smoke, and drink moderately, or not at all.
In the same way, kids so quickly copy our mannerisms, attitudes and enthusiasms, researchers say they will probably also mimic our healthy traits. Make sure they get the right cues.
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