May 12, 2004 at 1:30 PM CDT - Updated June 27 at 4:56 AM
Nine million children are considered overweight or obese. Doctors are calling it an epidemic, saying it leads to asthma, heart disease and type two diabetes.
One major reason behind ths epidemic is diet. A recent study found the majority of children surveyed think they eat healthy, but many do not.
Just labeling food as "nutritious" is generally one way to keep kids from eating it. Many times children often instantly decide that healthy equals bad-tasting.
Here are a few tips for parents:
1. Be good role models: Studies show that kids do as parents do, not necessarily as they say. Experts recommend families eat at least one meal a day together, and that parents eat the way they want their children to eat at that meal.
2. Make One Change At A Time: Don't try to force too much change too quickly. Instead, make one discreet change a week. It usually takes kids eight to ten exposures to new food before a child makes it their own.
Encourage them to try one bite at a time. If it doesn't work the first time, try again next time. If your child still won't eat what you give them, try something else.
3.Improve Snack Time: Don't eliminate the less nutritious snacks – like chips – completely. Instead, try giving them good snacks, such as fruits, whole grain crackers with a slice of cheese, or vegetables to munch on after school or before dinner.
Notes: 1.Before age two, kids should be getting full fat dairy products. But after age two, switch to skim milk. The only difference between whole or 2% milk and skim milk is the fat content. The calcium content in all milk is the same.
2.Also, be sure to eliminate sugar juices. Instead, stick to 100 % fruit juices and only one small glass of this type of juice a day.
3. Salt should be kept to six grams a day (about one teaspoon), and cholesterol to less than 300 milligrams.