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J Am Diet Assoc. 2005 May;105(5 Suppl 1):S70-9.

Family environment and pediatric overweight: what is a parent to do?

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  • 1Center for Weight and Health, College of Natural Resources, University of California, Berkeley 94720-3104, USA.


Although the causes of pediatric overweight are many and the levels of intervention required to prevent overweight in children extend from the child's immediate environment to the larger societal level, one critical intervention target is the parent. Scientific evidence points to specific dietary and physical activity/inactivity behaviors that families can adopt to encourage healthful weight status. Dietary recommendations include providing children with ample access to nutrient-dense foods and beverages and high-fiber foods, both at meals and snack times, reducing children's access to high-calorie, nutrient-poor beverages and foods both when eating at home and at restaurants, avoiding excessive food restriction or use of food as a reward, and encouraging children to eat breakfast on a daily basis. Physical activity recommendations include providing opportunities and encouragement for children to be physically active while reducing children's television and video game time. Parental modeling of healthful eating and physical activity practices is recommended to reinforce these patterns in youth. Dietetics professionals, physicians, and other health care professionals can assist parents in their efforts to prevent pediatric overweight by providing information and supporting these key behaviors, while working to create environments that support healthful lifestyle changes.

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