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10 tips to help children develop healthy lifestyle habits

Published:Wednesday | September 14, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Make dinnertime a family time
Exercise and an active lifestyle are very important healthy habits for children to develop

10 tips to help children

develop healthy lifestyle habits

With the alarming statistics that in every CARICOM state more than one in 10 children is obese, with the numbers rising, it is critical to begin to help them develop healthy lifestyle habits from an early age. This will bring lifelong benefits and stave of non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

Here are some tips and guidelines parents can use to encourage children to evaluate their food preference and physical activity habits, and begin to make wise and healthy lifestyle choices.

1. Be a good role model

You don't have to be perfect all the time, but if children see you trying to eat right and getting physically active, they'll take notice of your efforts. You'll send a message that good health is important to your family.

2. Keep things positive

Children don't like to hear what they can't do, tell them what they can do instead. Keep it fun and positive. Everyone likes to be praised for a job well done. Celebrate successes and help children and teens develop a good self-image.

3. Get the whole

family moving

Plan times for everyone to get moving together. Take walks, ride bikes, go swimming, garden or just play hide-and-seek outside. Everyone will benefit from the exercise and the time together.

4. Be realistic

Setting realistic goals and limits are key to adopting any new behaviour. Small steps and gradual changes can make a big difference in your health over time, so start small and build up.

5. Limit TV, video game

and computer time

These habits lead to a sedentary lifestyle and excessive snacking, which increase risks for obesity and cardiovascular disease. Limit screen time to two hours per day.

6. Encourage physical activities that they'll really enjoy

Every child is unique. Let your child experiment with different activities until they find something that they really love doing. They'll stick with it longer if they love it.

7. Pick truly

rewarding rewards

Don't reward children with TV, video games, candy or snacks for a job well done. Find other ways to celebrate good behaviour.

8. Make dinner time

family time

When everyone sits down together to eat, there's less chance of children eating the wrong foods or snacking too much. Get your children involved in cooking and planning meals. Everyone develops good eating habits together and the quality time with the family will be an added bonus.

9. Make a game of

reading food labels

The whole family will learn what's good for their health and be more conscious of what they eat. It's a habit that helps change behaviour for a lifetime. Learn more about reading nutrition labels.

10. Stay involved

Be an advocate for healthier children. Insist on good food choices at school. Make sure your children's health-care providers are monitoring cardiovascular indicators like BMI, blood pressure and cholesterol. Contact public officials on matters of the heart. Make your voice heard.