Positive Moves for Parents

The top line is also the bottom line, in the words of health and science writer Kirti Pandey:

Remember, kids do imitate the adults in their lives. Be a role model for them by adopting these healthy habits, and they will too!

To digress for a moment, there is an ideal age where example-setting really sinks in and takes hold. Probably every child goes through a “monkey see, monkey do” stage of imitating what the grownups do. It is all too soon over, so take advantage of it while you have the chance.

Spoiler alert

There is nothing here the average reader has not heard before, and every reminder is worth repeating. For instance, the author says “lead by example,” and although she does not plumb the darker psychological depths, it is worth doing. Kids can spot a phoniness a mile away. It is possible that what sensitive and intelligent children hate most about their parents is hypocrisy. The philosophy of “Do as I say, not as I do” never works out well. The art of demonstrating true leadership includes eating lots of veggies and fruits.

Not surprisingly, Pandey advocates moving around, and not just to prevent obesity:

Regular physical activity in childhood also reduces the risk of depression. Ensure that your kids enjoy at least an hour’s physical activity daily.

Closely related, because the time involved could be used for moving around more, is the admonition to shun electronic screens:

One idea is to set a time for checking the smartphone. It should not be an extension of one’s palm. Secondly, make it a rule: No phone at the dining table. Also, no phones in the bedroom, all gadgets in the TV room or study. Switch off all digital devices an hour before night curfew as the blue light can play havoc with the brain’s sleep and wakefulness signals.

And no sugar-sweetened beverages, and get plenty of high-quality sleep. Exercise is relevant here, too:

Giving children an opportunity to use up their energy during the day and to unwind before bedtime can make it easier for them to fall asleep and stay asleep through the night.

Modeling the desired behavior is crucial. One of Dr. Pretlow’s solutions is to prepare a stockpile of planned distractions. They can be saved via an app in a virtual “Distractions Jar” or written on slips of paper and stuck in an actual jar. Or vase, or empty cereal box. There can be a shared family jar, or each person could create their own. The point is to have a reservoir of ideas to try out when the snacking urge sneaks up.

Distraction ideas could even be food-related. CNN’s Katia Hetter, in an article offering 100 ideas to stay sane during pandemic isolation, offered a couple of ideas that might be useful to stave off boredom and frustration:

Pantry challenge: Pick an ingredient out of the pantry or refrigerator and cook from it. You can look at cookbooks for recipes or check online for guidance. Today’s challenge — or perhaps opportunity — could be that random eggplant from our vegetable delivery bag or the lentils a friend gave me when she moved out of town.

Eat someplace else: Pick another state or country with food you like, cook it and listen to their music during dinner and bring some phrases to the table from that location. This is especially good if you had planned a trip to that place. You’ll be ready to go.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Preventing childhood obesity: 5 things you can do at home to ensure good health of your children from KG to college,” TimesNowNews.com, 06/03/22
Source: “Summer is not completely canceled. Here are 100 things we can do with or without kids,” CNN.com, 07/23/20
Image by Pat Hartman

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OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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