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Obesity is Now a National Security Issue

Obesity is Now a National Security Issue

Mallika Chopra | GOOD Magazine

While Michelle Obama works on the macro level to change school programs and community infrastructure, ultimately, it’s up to parents to instill changes at home and within our communities to realize healthier, lifelong habits for our children. A study recently released by Ohio State University showed that young children who ate dinner with their parents and siblings, got adequate sleep, and had limited TV time were almost 40 percent less likely to be obese than those from less disciplined households.

So let’s look at the micro level. Here are some ideas of how we parents can foster healthy lifestyle habits in our children.

Lead by example. If we want our kids to eat healthy and exercise, we need to do the same. I’m a big believer in achieving a healthy, moderate, balance in diet and exercise for myself and my kids. As the First Lady says, "There is a place in this life for cookies and ice cream and burgers and fries. That is a part of childhood. This is just about balance, about really small changes that can add up, like walking to school when you can, replacing soda with water or skim milk, trimming portions just a little.”

Encourage our children to find an activity they love. Support participation in team sports. Introduce them to yoga classes, Wii Fit games, Dance Dance Revolution, hula-hooping, walking the dog, etc. The family that plays together, stays together.

Seek out physically active cultural activities like Taiko drumming or learning traditional cultural dance. My 8-year old daughter takes Indian dance classes every week. It’s rigorous physically, but it also helps her learn about her culture and meet other Indian kids in our community.

Organize fun fitness activities with fellow parents in the area. Anyone for volleyball in the park or beach runs?

Make eating and exercising a family affair. Make breakfast a time to set intents for the coming day, and dinner a time to catch up on all that happened. Start walking or riding bikes together to school or on weekends with your kids.

I applaud Michelle Obama, as a mother and the First Lady, for bringing awareness and action to our serious obesity problem. I hope as individuals and communities, we take on the tasks to improve our lives, families, and communities.

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