6 Ways Parents Can Combat Childhood Obesity

African American parents teaching daughter to ride a bicycle

Keep your kids fit and healthy for a lifetime. (It's easier than you think.)

4. Set a good example. Demonstrate that you are making an effort to keep in shape; your kids will love it. Anything you do will influence them and reinforce their own healthy efforts. Looking up a few light recipes to try out at home, joining a weekend walking group, taking a Zumba class, being proud to fit into those old pair of jeans ... these small messages are proactive and positive, and will rub off on your children more than any diet could.

5. Enhance emotional bonds to your children. Hugging and cuddling reduces stress for both of you! Health is mental, emotional and physical. Closeness builds resiliency in children and, in turn, self-love. Kids who are active and eat well can feel that this is part of a loving upbringing with healthy boundaries.

6. Make a New Year's resolution. As we enter the new year, make some health goals together as a family. Deciding to ban sweets from the pantry, buy mostly organic, or serve desserts only on Sundays is a much more effective strategy if you have everyone's support and input. This way, the family grows healthy and stronger together and the child does not feel singled out for being overweight.

What are some of your best tips for encouraging healthy habits for your children? What are obstacles that you face? Comments are welcome!