Is Your Grandchild Overweight?

According to a brochure published by the state of South Dakota, one of every five children is overweight and the number is growing. Seeing that statistic got Grandboomers to thinking. When we were kids, it's hard to believe the number would have been more than one in 20, 25 or even higher. We were always out playing and came home to good meals.

Overweight children are at a greater risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, gall bladder disease, heart disease, and other health problems, according to the South Dakota Department of Health. And, while these severe disorders may not show up for years, some, like diabetes, are already making inroads in youngsters.

From genetic factors to fast food, TV, computers, video games, working parents who don't pay proper attention to the eating habits of their children, lack of exercise; there's a lot of blame to go around. We at Grandboomers have also noticed that what we call "junk food" now comes in outrageously large sizes. High fat munchies come in the giant size at super markets, and step up to even larger sizes in the big-box family discount stores. And, have you noticed that there seems to be some kind of snack at the end of each aisle?

Not only are kids more sedentary, but they're being inundated with audio and visual commercials about these products. Here are some things Grandboomers and their children can do about this national problem. Not only will the children benefit, but Grandboomers and their children will get in shape as well.

The South Dakota Department of Health recommends:

* Plan daily exercise for the family.

Family bike trips, active games, or weekend hikes make exercise fun. Kids need to see their parents leading an active life and enjoying it.

* Provide ways for children to become physically active.

Have toys that provide active play, such as balls, bats and roller skates. If children do watch TV, have them move around during commercials to get their heart rate up.

* Eat healthy.

Provide good meals and snacks and teach children about making healthy food choices on their own. Don�t restrict certain foods or kids will just want them more.

* Change your behavior.

Parents (and grandparents) need to be a role model with their own diet and exercise.

* Tackle TV.

Limit TV watching to one hour or less per day. Have children eat at the table. Eating while watching TV can become a habit.

* Eat meals as a family as often as possible.

Try to make mealtimes pleasant by talking and sharing. If mealtimes are not pleasant, children may try to eat faster to leave the table as soon as possible. They may learn to eat when stressed.

* Allow children to help in making meals and snacks.

Children will want to eat healthy foods or snacks if they help prepare them.

These are just a few suggestions to get you started. They apply to both parents and Grandboomers when the grandchildren are visiting.

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