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Childhood Obesity Prevention

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Program Information
Defining the Problem
Steps Toward Solutions

Childhood Obesity: Steps Toward Solutions


  • Try some low-fat, low-sugar snacks.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables.
  • Record what you eat for a few days. If what you eat does not resemble the Food Guide Pyramid, make some changes.
  • Be active by doing something you like to do, such as dancing or jumping rope.
  • Aim for 60 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week.


  • Set limits on TV and computer time. Time spent with these electronic devices tends to reduce physical activity and often increases consumption of high-calorie snacks. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting TV, movies, and video and computer games for children to no more than 1 or 2 hours per day.
  • Offer children healthier foods. Snack foods are a great place to start. Buy more yogurt and fruits and fewer chips and cookies at the grocery. Serve more ice water and fewer sodas. Regular soft drinks add 110 to 160 calories per 12-ounce serving.
  • Encourage your children to be involved in something active and enjoyable. Suggestions include organized sports (such as softball or soccer), outdoor activities (such as scouting or 4-H clubs), or active playtime at home (such as roller skating, throwing Frisbees, or biking).
  • Make time for the entire family to enjoy regular physical activities together.
  • Assign active chores to all family members, such as vacuuming, washing the car, or mowing the lawn. Rotate chores among family members to avoid boredom.
  • Be a healthy role model for your children. Children will be more likely to eat fruits and vegetables and be physically active if parents are setting a good example.
  • Let your school know that you are concerned about what your child eats at school and how much physical activity is included in the school day. Have nutrition and exercise experts come speak to the PTA, school board, or site-based council.
  • Buy only 100% fruit juice. Just 1/2 cup of fruit juice will supply one serving of fruit, so be aware of calories and serving sizes.
  • Eat meals together at the dinner table.
  • Avoid watching TV during mealtimes.
  • Limit fast food eating to no more than once per week.
  • Avoid using food as a reward or using the lack of food as a punishment.


  • Incorporate some form of movement into the classroom curriculum. Active students are more alert and ready to learn.
  • Ask parents to bring healthy snack options when your class is having a bake sale or class event.
  • Do not reward students with food, and do not punish students by taking away recess.
  • Start a program at your school to raise awareness of the importance of physical activity among students and staff.
  • Have a health educator speak to your class about different programs or places in your area where students can be involved in physical activity.
  • Invite the school food service director to speak to your classes about healthy meal planning.
  • Host a career day to help students learn about employment opportunities in health care and promotion.

School Food Service Directors and Managers

  • Make sure school breakfast and lunch options are healthy and appealing. Invite teachers and students to work on ideas for marketing healthier food choices.
  • Offer fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy foods.
  • Reduce access to high-fat, high-calorie, high-sugar foods and excessive portion sizes.
  • Use the cafeteria setting to increase awareness of healthy food choices with brochures or posters about “Five-a-Day” fruits and vegetables or “1% or Less” dairy foods.
  • Seek student input for school menu plans through contests, focus groups, or classroom activities.

School Administrators

  • Promote healthier eating and physical activity in your school.
  • Have a registered dietitian or certified nutritionist come to your faculty/staff meeting to bring unity on this issue.
  • Make wellness programs available to school faculty and staff.
  • Work with your school food service director to create an environment of healthy food choices for meals.
  • Give the students healthier options in the vending machines. Try the new milk machines.

Site-Based Decision-Making Councils

  • Set policies for what can and cannot be sold in school.
  • Re-evaluate the contracts between your district and soft drink industries. The money and perks from these agreements may not be in the best interest of your students.
  • Be involved in assessing the school’s eating environment, developing a shared vision, and creating an action plan to achieve it.
  • Help schools offer daily opportunities for physical activity and inclusive education.
  • Work with schools and community organizations to ensure that exercise equipment and supervised programs are available to meet the physical needs and interests of all students and school staff.


  • Create a community that promotes physical activity for children and teenagers.
  • Increase access to food choices for a healthy diet, such as dairy products, fruits, and vegetables.
  • Work with your Cooperative Extension Service office, state and local health departments, and other partners to promote community physical activity programs.
  • Increase public access to gyms, playgrounds, and walking/biking trails.

Civic Leaders

  • Work with city planners and engineers to plan for sidewalks and bicycle paths. In addition, widen sidewalks so that they are less crowded, safer, and more inviting.
  • Designate a place for and promote a farmers’ market.
  • Create a community coalition to address childhood overweight.
  • Increase the accessibility of public facilities.


  • Create policies to promote healthy eating and physical activity.
  • Provide educators with health education materials to help students develop the knowledge, attitudes, skills, and behaviors for developing healthy eating patterns and a physically active lifestyle.
  • Allocate funding for health promotion and monitoring programs.

Kentucky residents may purchase videotapes of this and other KET Kids’ Health Specials. Call or e-mail KET Tape Duplication, (800) 945-9167 or .

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