Healthy Eating and Active Lifestyles Begin at Home

It hardly needs saying that families are one of the most important and lasting influences on the choices—health and otherwise—that children and youth make. So when it comes to preventing excess weight gain and obesity, parents and guardians have fantastic potential to steer children in directions that lay the foundation for lifelong good health.

Children today live in a world that more readily promotes unhealthy eating than healthy eating, and fosters sedentary activities more than physical activities. But parents can provide children with the tools and experience they need to ignore the unhealthy cues and make healthy choices.

Parents can do this by creating the healthiest home food environment possible: stocking the fridge and pantry with vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and other nutritious foods; keeping to a minimum low-quality foods and drinks, like sugary soda, sweets, and super-processed foods; eating dinner together as a family; and nurturing kids’ interest in food shopping and cooking, even gardening.

Parents can also create a home where being active daily is the norm: walking or biking with their kids to school; planning fun, active outings with family and friends; keeping TV and other screen time low; and simply encouraging kids to go out and play. And parents can make sure that kids regularly get enough sleep, since healthy sleep has been linked to healthy weight.