Installing child-obesity-proof locks

Published 12:37 pm Wednesday, May 12, 2010

There are varied factors in the fight against childhood obesity; however, parents maintain the home team advantage.

The three bolts in locking out childhood obesity are to look back, look around and look out. Family health history: families should consider a look back into their family health history to discover the health issues that may carry a lineage through generations. Helpful information and tools can be accessed at that can assist with developing a family history record. Once compiled, it can serve in providing awareness and a guide to proactive health decisions. Family health present: It can be helpful for parents to look around for small efforts they can implement immediately. One example is determining a child’s body mass index (BMI), which can be as simple as a click on

BMI reveals the amount of body fat and helps establish a point of reference for healthy ranges based upon height and weight. Families also may work to incorporate regular family dinners as well as ensure children receive an average of 10 1/2 hours of sleep during weekdays; both are correlated with healthy weight control and wellness. Parents should look out for deeper issues that could be impacting weight gain and over-eating, as underlying problems can continue to fuel issues far into the future. Likewise, policing personal efforts is important to ensure support of a healthy body image, and to help avoid replacing one issue with another. Remember, in implementing changes, you may encounter challenges. Your Alabama Cooperative Extension System has resources available to help. In addition to registered dieticians, extension agents specialize in nutrition/ health, family and child development, financial management among many other areas. features an “Ask the Expert” widget along with free publications on topics including healthy behaviors, parenting issues and finance to offer guidance.

Synithia Williams is an extension agent with the Shelby County Extension Office. She can be reached at 338-9416.