Parents can help cut child obesity

Parents can help cut child obesity As the school year kicks off, the South Dakota Department of Health urges parents to "Lead the Way: Choose Fruits, Vegetables, and Physical Activity" during National 5 A Day Month in September. Parents can help reverse the trends in childhood obesity, high blood pressure, and type II diabetes by "leading the way" at home, at their children's schools, and when eating out.

"Too many of our children are fighting diet-related illnesses," said Larissa Skjonsberg, 5 A Day coordinator for the department. As the most influential role models in their children's lives, parents can lead the way to helping kids develop healthy eating and physical activity habits that will stick with them throughout life."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all Americans eat five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day for better health and get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity most days of the week.

"Lifestyle habits begin at home at a very early age. If parents lead healthier lifestyles, their kids are more likely to do the same," said Skjonsberg. "Our children and teens increasingly are suffering from health problems due to illnesses that normally happen later in life, like obesity, type II diabetes, and pre-hypertension. We can help reverse these troubling trends by being good role models for out kids."

Skjonsberg offers parents the following tips:

* Involve kids in the grocery shopping, from putting their fruit and vegetable favorites on the list to bagging their choices in the grocery store's produce section.

* Keep a fresh fruit bowl on the table or counter, and keep easy-to-grab-and-eat vegetables in the refrigerator.

* Serve two vegetables with dinner.

National 5 A Day Month in September is the perfect time of year for the whole family to learn more about the importance of eating fruits and vegetables, and work together to meet the 5 to 9 A Day recommendations. For more information about good nutrition and physical activity, visit the

department Web site at tion.

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