top of page

Childhood Obesity




1963 - 1970     5% of children were overweight 

1971 - 1980     6% of children were overweight 

1988 - 1994     11% of children were overweight 

1999               13% of children were overweight 

1999 - 2000     15% of children were overweight 

                             National Health and Nutrition Studies (NHANES)



How To Determine If A Child Is Overweight/Obese?

Clinically: A child who weighs more than 10% of the normal weight for corresponding height shown on the growth chart is considered overweight. A child who weighs more than 20% of the normal weight for corresponding height shown on the growth chart is considered obese. To view a copy of the CDC growth chart for boys, click here. To view a copy of the CDC growth chart for girls, click here.



Why Is Being Overweight Such A Bad Thing?

  • Hypertension or high blood pressure means increased pressure against the walls of blood vessels. It occurs when passages are narrowed, stiff or constricted. It causes the heart to work harder and may damage the heart, brain, and kidneys. High blood pressure is a complex problem. While its causes are not clearly understood, they appear to be genetic and lifestyle, such as inactivity, excess body fat, and possibly stress.

  • High cholesterol: Blood and serum cholesterol circulates in the bloodstream. HDL, or high-density lipoprotein cholesterol is known as "good" cholesterol and is associated with lower risk of heart disease. LDL, or low-density lipoprotein cholesterol ("bad" cholesterol), forms deposits on the walls of arteries and other blood vessels and is associated with increase risk of heart disease.

  • Insulin Resistance or hyperinsulinemia is a condition in which the cells resist the action of insulin so glucose cannot pass through. More insulin is produced, resulting in higher levels of glucose in the blood. Insulin resistance puts people at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes, and is believed to be the key factor in the metabolic syndrome, a cluster of risk factors for chronic disease.

  • Type 2 Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in this country. Newly diagnosed diabetes, in children only, has risen from 5% of children in 1994 to between 39-50% today. Type 2 diabetes contributes to heart disease, blindness, kidney disease, stroke, and high blood pressure.

  • Overweight children turn into overweight adults. Those overweight adults are twice as likely to develop heart disease, colon or rectal cancer, and gout.

  • Children who are overweight are more likely to develop sooner. Excess body fat produces excess estrogen, resulting in early puberty. Early puberty has been linked with reproductive cancer later in life and has also been linked to preteen pregnancy.

  • Overweight children are more likely to have emotional or psychological problems as well. Overweight children are often teased, left out, and ignored, causing them to have low self-esteem and sometimes develop depression.

  • There are many, many more health risks of obesity such as obstructive sleep apnea, bowed legs, joint problems, and back pain.


Never assume that an "increased risk" means that all or even most obese people will develop these risks.



What Causes Children To Become Overweight?

  • Family genetics is the number one predictor in whether a child will become overweight or not. A child with two overweight parents has an 80% chance of being overweight. A child with two average weight parents has only a 14% chance of being overweight. Also genetic factors predetermine a child's metabolic rate, thermogenesis (the amount of body heat produced from eating), endocrine function, fat storage (genes are responsible for routing more fat to storage than for energy), appetite, and satiety.

  • Sedentary living is the next major factor for a child becoming overweight. So what is keeping children from moving? Television, movies, games, computer, video games, Internet, school budget cuts, and parents who don't have time to play with their kids. One-third of all children watch 5 or more hours of television a day. The more they sit the less their bodies need them to move; they slip into "couch potato" mode.

  • Believe it or not parents and care givers are unknowingly encouraging overeating in children. "Clean plate clubs," "Just a few more bites," and "If you eat this, you can have a treat." are all ways parents/providers are overriding the child's natural ability to tell them he/she is full by encouragements to eat more. On the other hand, parents/providers have a "fear of fat." That fear is causing them to promote under eating in children and leaving them less than full.

  • Now more than ever families are choosing to eat at fast food, take-out joints, and family restaurants instead of having a home cooked meal. The majority of the foods offered at these places are deep-fried, high fat, and high-calorie. Also at these places, children are getting soft drinks instead of milk and the majority of the kids' meals are missing components for a balanced meal.

  • Processed foods are also eaten more frequently. These foods have plenty of sugar added and that sugar is just excess calories. Sugar is added to all foods not just sweets. Things like pizza, bread, soups, crackers, canned vegetables, flavored yogurt, ketchup, and salad dressing all have significant amounts of sugar added.

  • Children see an average of 40,000 commercial advertisements in one year. In one hour on a Saturday morning, children see about 10 food commercials. Those commercials are influencing children to choose unhealthy foods and to overeat. There are currently many commercials that feature cartoon children "inhaling" a bag of chips, or with jingles that influence over eating with "Betcha can't eat just one - bag!"

  • Some children have weight issues because of their prenatal care. Nutrition deprivation before birth may trigger an adaptive change, programming children to eat more and produce more body fat.

  • Recently there have been many budget cuts in school funding. To balance out those budget cuts, many school districts are allowing soda machines in schools. With this change, children are drinking more soda instead of the milk offered with school lunch. Also, children who bring sack lunches to school tend to be eating more chips, cookies, and snack foods rather than the healthier options that school lunch provides.

  • It should be a simple equation that the amount of calories we take in should be burned off. However, this is not the case. Many children are not getting enough exercise to balance that equation. It is also very difficult to know what calories are being burned during active play. Some children are also just predetermined to store more fat making it harder to burn calories.


How Do I Normalize A Weight Problem?

  • First and foremost work with a pediatrician. This is so important! The child may not even have a weight problem.

  • Do a reality check. We probably think we are serving nutritious foods to the children, but what are they really eating? Children may not be getting the right amount of fruits and vegetables during a day. They may be getting desserts daily, drinking more than 6 oz. of juice or soda, and drinking whole milk rather than low-fat or 1% (whole milk is best for young children). Eating more than two small cookies or a small bag of chips in one day (potato chips are not creditable on the food program), eating more than one fast food meal every three days, eating more deep-fried entrees or vegetables, eating only white bread instead of healthier whole wheat varieties, eating candy more than once a week (candy is not creditable on the food program), and regularly eating more than three meals and three snacks a day can contribute to excess calories.

  • We can prevent a child from turning to secret or binge eating by not restricting foods. It will only make your child more determined to eat what they want, no matter if they are hungry or not.

  • Limit the amount of meals that are eaten at fast food, take-out, or family restaurants. These foods tend to be higher in calories and fat. They are mostly deep-fried. If eating out is the only option, try to help your children choose foods that are healthier, like baked potatoes instead of french fries. Try to focus on foods that are eaten in your home rather than ones you cannot control.

  • Many adults eat out of habit, boredom, or stress rather than hunger and we are inadvertently teaching this to our children. Serve and eat the appropriate number of meals and snacks in a day. Set regular meal/snack times and follow them as strictly as you can. Never use unhealthy food as a reward. Never give your children food when they are not hungry. If you want to treat your children to something special, spend some extra special time with them instead of giving them a sweet treat.

  • The most important thing we can do for all our children is to encourage physical activity. Exercise influences the way hormones and enzymes work in the body and it increases the amount of fat circulating in our bloodstream that can be used for energy. Play active games with your children; try to get at least an hour of active play each day.



How Do I Tell A Parent That I Think Their Child Has A Weight Problem?

  • This will probably be the hardest thing to do. We need to make sure we are not offending a parent or hurting their or the child's feelings. Weight is a sensitive issue no matter who it is about and this needs to be kept in mind at all times.

  • Instead of worrying about what the parent is doing, concentrate on your home and what you are doing for the kids there. Be sure to serve healthy meals and snacks as well as getting the children out and active.

  • Provide information to all parents about active play and healthy eating. If we keep reminding them, they may eventually change their family's habits. Organize an activity day at a park with all your families. Be sure to organize active games and healthy snacks.



Birth & Up

Baby Sit Ups

You can help your baby sit up and strengthen their muscles by guiding them through this simple game. Lay your baby down on a blanket on their back. Using the blanket as a sling, grasp the edges with both hands close to the top of the baby's head. Pull them up gently and then lower them again.


Airplane Baby

Support your baby, tummy down, by holding them under their chest and belly with one or both of your arms. (But always be sure to support a newborn's head.) Then swing them gently to and fro while singing a rhythmic song. With every passing week they will practice lifting their head, neck, and shoulders so that they can look around and widen their baby's-eye-view.


Rock the Baby

One very soothing motion for an infant is to be gently rocked from side to side on their tummy. Roll up a towel or two together. Lay your baby on their stomach over the roll so that it supports their chest, stomach and thighs. Turn their head to one side. Then very gently rock them from side to side while singing a song. The rocking motion helps them develop a sense of balance, while lying on their tummy gives them a chance to try to lift their head from a belly-down position.



In this simple exercise game, you very gently and very slowly move the infants' legs in a bicycling motion, all the while talking and smiling at them to encourage them to wiggle their legs without your help. Before you know it they will be grabbing their own little feet and eventually pedaling all by themselves.


3 Months & Up

Stretching Out

After nine months in the womb, a newborn often arrives with a tendency to continually curl up in, yes, the fetal position. Gentle stretching exercises can help them become aware of their tiny arms and legs. Lay your baby down on their back on a bed, changing table, or the floor. Very gently stretch their arms up over their head and then down again. Try bringing one of their arms up while drawing the other down along their body. Then bring one arm up while carefully stretching the opposite leg down.


Tummy Bolster

Learning how to sit requires far more than just keeping one's head up; it also calls on the muscles of the shoulders, torso, and upper and lower back. You can help your baby develop those muscles by bolstering them with a soft "pillow." Roll up a towel, securing the ends with soft fabric hair bands, and then slip the towel under their arms and chest while they lie on their tummy on the floor or carpet. The bolster helps them to raise their neck and shoulders up for longer periods and encourages them to use their arms for support. It also offers them an enticing view of the world around them.


Mirror Play

A three- or four-month-old baby is just getting to the point where they can amuse themselves for several minutes on end. An exciting breakthrough for baby and parents alike. You may hear them gurgling to their toes early in the morning, for instance; see them fiddling with their hands in front of their face; or catch them looking intently around a room. At around four months old, a baby can not only see but also track, which means that they can actually watch items or people as they move around them. Now that they can lift their head while on their tummy, a mirror in their crib can provide a lot of fun. They don't yet understand that the reflection in the mirror is themselves, and won't until they are fifteen to eighteen months old. Still, they'll brighten and smile when they see their own face. It will help them strengthen the muscles needed for sitting and crawling.


Just Out of Reach

You can encourage your baby's early efforts to grab things and even to move their body by placing attractive objects (brightly colored balls, plush toys, favorite picture books, and most especially yourself) just beyond their reach. Encourage them to get the objects in any way they can, whether by creeping forward on their tummy, rolling over on their side, or just plain stretching as far as they can go. Don't tease them, though. Instead, build success into the activity. If they start to get frustrated, hand them the toy and praise their efforts.



6 Months & Up

Kick, Kick, Kick

Six- to nine-month-old babies are often thrilled to be sitting up and splashing in the tub. With the tub filled with lukewarm water and your baby safely seated on a non-slip mat, encourage them to kick, either by praising their natural attempts to do so or by gently kicking their legs for them. You can also try to hold baby so their belly is in the water and their head and shoulders are lifted safely above the surface.


Pushing Game

They think they can move forward on their tummy, but they are not quite coordinated enough yet. Give them a boost by laying them on their front and letting them push against your hands or a rolled-up towel as they inch forward each time. One minute of "creeping" practice now and again may be exhilarating; two minutes may be all they need to get moving down the path towards greater mobility.


Shake, Rattle and Roll

As they discover the properties of the objects they touch (their shape, weight, texture, and of course taste) they'll be particularly amazed by the various sounds they make. You can help their early experiments by providing an elementary maraca made from a plastic bottle filled with something that will make noise. Show them how to shake it, but once they get the idea, it may be hard to get them to stop!


Play Ball

They're not quite ready for a game of catch, but a game of fetch will please them to no end. Roll a medium-sized whiffle ball or a large plastic or cloth ball just beyond your baby so that they have to move to get it. Or try rolling it to them directly so that they can get used to stopping it with their hands. Hint: letting a little air out of a big plastic ball or beach ball will make it easier for them to grab and handle.



Now that their muscles are getting stronger, they'll be even more motivated to stand on their own two feet with your assistance. Make practice fun by accompanying it with a merry movement chant. Start by laying your baby down on their back so that they're facing you with their legs out straight. Then gently help them to sit and stand as you engage in this roly-poly activity.


Cushion Mountain

Learning to crawl will fill your little one with great glee. Once they've mastered moving horizontally on all fours, they are ready to try their hand at climbing. Just pile some cushions on the floor and show them how to clamber across them. Your baby needs to apply their crawling techniques, in which they alternate their hands and legs, to climb a vertical surface. That requires a good amount of coordination, strength, and balance. But when they get it, they'll be on their way to the challenges of jungle gyms, steep dirt mounds and playground ladders.


I'm Gonna Get You

No one really knows why babies love to be chased and surprised. Whatever the reason, even most early crawlers seem to think that having a beloved caretaker thundering after them is very, very funny. Start crawling slowly after your baby, murmuring "I'm gonna get you... I'm gonna get you!" Then gently grab your baby and say, "I got you!" You can lift them up in the air, kiss the nape of their neck, and give their ribs a little tickle, but keep the game gentle so you don't startle them. Having an incentive to crawl also strengthens their gross motor skills.


Bottle Roll

If you'd like to coax your baby into moving a bit more, an eight-ounce baby bottle filled with beans or grains can be very enticing. Just fill the bottle partially (so the contents can move) and roll it across the floor in front of your baby. This will get your baby moving and using gross motor skills. Even if they don't move and just roll the bottle back and forth, they are still using fine motor skills.


9 Months & Up

Baby Soccer

Your baby won't learn to kick a ball on the ground until they are in their second year, but even a nine-month-old can play a rousing game of baby soccer if you provide the muscle power. Just pick them up under their arms and swing their legs at a lightweight, medium-sized ball. Swinging their legs helps strengthen your baby's abdominal and leg muscles.



Wrap a layer of tissue paper around the end of a flashlight. Shine the colored light on the floor, and encourage your baby to "go get it." Whether your baby is crawling or walking, trying to catch the colored light improves their eye-hand coordination and agility. Walkers who chase after the beam of light also hone their balance and visual skills.



Tunnel Time

Ever wonder why your baby is so intent on wriggling under the bed, squeezing behind the couch, or curling up on the floor of your closet? Children this age are naturally intrigued with space, especially when it's just their size. You can cater to this fascination by providing a commercially made or cardboard tunnel for the baby to crawl through. Roll a ball down the tunnel and encourage them to go after it. Or put yourself, or small toys such as beanbags or plush toys, at the other end and coax them through.



Push Me, Pull You

If your baby is walking, or even just beginning to toddle, they appreciate the support provided by a large object they can push across the floor; such as a stroller, child-sized chair, or commercial push toy. A laundry basket filled with toys also makes a great walking aide. You might help them at first by pulling from the other side, but then watch out! They will soon want to do it all by themselves.



12 Months & Up

Bubble Busters

Blowing, chasing, and popping bubbles are excellent opportunities to encourage movement, stimulate eye-hand coordination, and introduce the concepts of big and small, high and low. Experiment with an assortment of bubble wands in varying sizes. Chasing, catching, and popping bubbles contributes to eye-hand coordination, sensory stimulation, body awareness, and gross motor skills.


Funny Feet

Even a child who has been toddling for several months is still getting used to the sensations involved in walking. Take advantage of their curiosity by removing their shoes and leading them outside across a variety of textures, such as warm sand, smooth pebbles, cool concrete, wet grass, and gooey mud.


18 Months & Up

Hide & Seek

When your child's attention isn't focused directly on you, find a nearby tree, chair or wall that you can hide behind. Call out to your toddler: "I'm hiding, try to find me!" As the toddler searches, urge them closer with your voice. Soon they'll learn to follow the sound of your voice until they find your hand, leg, shoulder, and finally, your beloved face.



Baby Basketball

Gather a few medium-sized balls and place them in a large container such as a laundry basket, cardboard box, or plastic bowl. Show your child how to empty the balls onto the floor and then demonstrate how to drop the balls one by one into the basket. Initially, your toddler may enjoy simply putting the balls in the basket and taking them back out. When they are ready, have them stand back and try throwing the balls into the basket. Increase the challenge by placing a few containers around the room. Then urge your athlete to aim toward a different one each time.



2 & Up

Beach-Ball Catch

Most toddlers are able to throw a ball before they can catch one. But they love trying to wrap their little arms around airborne balls, and with a healthy dose of patience and practice you can help your child learn the basics of catching. Start by rolling a ball to them and asking them to roll it back to you. When they're ready to attempt catching, use a slightly deflated beach ball (it's easier for small hands to grasp).


Head to Toes

You may remember this song from your own childhood, when you sang it at camp, in school, or with your friends or parents. It's also a great tune for helping toddlers learn and remember, the names of body parts. Sing, "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" to your child and place both hands on your body parts as you call out the name of each part. Keep singing the song over and over, increasing the tempo each time. You'll probably both get mixed up and a bit breathless towards the end, but that's part of the fun!


Scarf Tricks

Your child may have almost mastered catching a rolling ball, a wobbling plastic lid, or the family cat. Here's something altogether different to challenge their eye-hand coordination. Gather some brightly colored, lightweight scarves. Scrunch up a few of them simultaneously in your hand and throw them high in the air, then ask your child to try and catch them as they float and flutter toward the ground. As they get older, encourage them to spin around or clap their hands before catching the scarves.


Beanbag Bowling

Your toddler delights in putting objects in motion, just to see what will happen. This is a natural way for toddlers to learn about cause and effect. Stack several tall, lightweight plastic bottles, cups, or empty cans. Show your child how to throw a beanbag animal to knock them down. Then take turns tossing the beanbag but don't bother keeping score.



Ribbon Rings

Your child already loves to dance, but adding rings of colorful, floating ribbon will make their spinning and twirling all the more magical and fun. Purchase a pair of ribbon rings (sold at specialty toy stores) or make your own by buying a dozen fabric ribbons or cutting fabric or old sheets into strips that are between 12 and 25 inches in length. Securely tie one end of each of the ribbons or strips around small embroidery rings or canning rims.



Wall to Wall

Find a space to run across from wall to wall or fence. Start with a counting-off game, yelling the loudest "Go!" you can muster, where upon the children run from one wall and stop at the other. Run with different children each time. Count up to different numbers. Count down. Then challenge different ways to run. Tip toes? Knees high? Arms high? Circling? Swinging? Twisting? Zig-zag? Backwards? Jumping?


Run Run Chicken Go Home

Like wall to wall, the children run from one safe zone to the next, but in the middle is the catcher, who calls, "Run run chicken go home" to signal the others to run across the mid space. Anyone tagged becomes part of the catchers for the next run, proceeding until all are caught and the game begins anew.


Elbow Tag

Pairs of children who are linked together arm in arm at the elbow are safe. In this variant of tag, when a third child joins the pair by linking to an available arm, the person on the opposite arm must escape to find a new partner before being tagged.


Safe Tag

In this tag game, the group establishes a specific object (tree or climber) or difficult body position (standing on one leg or standing back to back with another child). Change the safe object or pose. Change the number of "IT's."


The Blob

Establish boundaries. Start by calling yourself the Blob. Chase the children until you catch one. That child then grabs your hand and becomes part of the blob. Together, still holding hands, you catch others. The Blob grows larger with each capture. Only the outside free hands can tag. The Blob may either tag or encircle its prey. One of the characteristics of the Blob is that it can split up into different numbers of smaller Blobs, but there must be at least two to a Blob. When one, two, or three children are left, whichever you specify, the game ends. Those children unite and begin the next Blob.


Cat and Mouse

You need two balls, one larger than the other; Nerf balls are ideal. The children are seated in a circle. Tell a short story about how the Cat always chases the Mouse and the Mouse is a little bit quicker. The balls are handed from one child to the next as quickly as possible. Start the smaller ball (the Mouse) first and the larger one (the Cat) a few seconds later. The adult can stand or sit in the middle to catch wayward balls.


Balloon City

Place a large number of balloons in a small area. The challenge is to keep them all in the air any way they can without holding them. No hands?


Non-Elimination Simon Says

Two games begin simultaneously, each with a leader, who performs various movements, which the children mimic when given the command, "Simon says...." However, when the leader says, "Do..." without having said "Simon says," any child who follows, instead of being eliminated, transfers to the second game, joining in on the next "Simon says" command. In this way there is no exclusion, only movement between two groups.


Catching The Dragon's Tail

Gather 10 or more children in a line. Each person places hands on the shoulders of the person in front of them. The first in line is the "head" of the dragon; the last is the "tail." The head tries to catch the tail by maneuvering the line around so he can tag the tail player. When the tail is tagged, the tail player moves to the front of the dragon to become the new head. The old head is now in second.


Paper Race

Give each child an ordinary piece of paper. The teacher shows the children how to run with the paper, first by holding it on her chest, then, after picking up speed, letting go so the air pressure holds it in place. It is relatively easy to keep it in place running in a straight line. The challenge is to run in circles.


Cookie Monster

All children line up along a wall, fence, or demarcation line. They are cookies. One child is the Cookie Monster who stands some distance away. The children chant, "Cookie Monster, Cookie Monster, what time is it?" The cookie monster responds with a clock time, choosing any number he or she wishes, e.g. "Eight O'clock." The 'cookies' then count out loud together as they take large steps towards the Cookie Monster. "One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight." The 'cookies' repeat their 'what time' call. The cookie monster continues to respond with time numbers until he or she decides to answer, "Cookie Time!" whereupon the Cookie Monster chases the cookies back to the wall.



Fit City! Turn your little couch potato into a mover and a shaker. By Grace Bennett, Courtesy of the Sesame Street Workshop - To print a copy of the below information for parents, click here.


Ok, so your child spends hours at home fixated on the TV or computer with his tushy glued to a cushy chair. He's getting the exercise he needs at school, isn't he? Not.


More and more school-age children are becoming less and less fit. Although studies say that kids now watch less TV than they used to, they make up for it by sitting at the computer. And most kids are engaging in far less than 150 minutes per week of school phys-ed activity recommended by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) in Reston, Virginia. This is despite numerous studies highlighting the benefit of exercise to children, from keeping them alert in the classroom to preventing high blood pressure and undue weight gain. In one recent California study of children's health, 8% of 10 year olds had high blood pressure. This is an alarming statistic, according to Don Morris, Ph.D., and a spokesperson for the San Francisco-based Project Fit America. "Inactivity plays a strong role in promoting this condition." The upshot, according to experts, is that it's largely up to us parents to help our children get moving. Here are some tactics to counter common kid excuses.





  1. "I'm on the computer, Mom!" Yours isn't the only child to overindulge in Web surfing at the expense of large-motor skills. What to do: Get out of your chair first. Research shows that active parents are likely to have active kids. "Parents need to show kids that fitness is important to them, too," notes Dorothy Singer, Ed.D., co-director of the Yale University Family Television Research and Consultation Center in New Haven, Connecticut. So ease into a walking regimen or swim program at the local Y. Once you get going, make a point of letting your child know about it. Before long he may be ready to join you.

  2. "But I'm watching The Simpsons!" If after-dinner tube gazing is a regular family ritual, the suggestion of, say, an evening walk may be met with resistance. What to do: Plan ahead. Tell your child you'd like to schedule a few twilight strolls together each week. Then make them fun by skipping for example, or seeing how long you can hop on one foot or walk backwards. Or pop in a Tae-Bo tape for a home session of this hot new martial arts-style workout. Your child's more likely to stick with an activity that's fun, so indulge his fancy and go fly a kite, kick a soccer ball, or roller blade together.

  3. "It's too cold to go out!" Dr. Morris says "too many parents, and thus their kids, subscribe to a belief that if the weather isn't perfect, they should stay home." What to do: Dress appropriately and help your child discover the joys of activity in almost any weather. Shoot hoops out back or take a hike to rev up body heat. If your child likes ice-skating or swimming, head out to an indoor rink or pool.

  4. "I'm on my Game Boy." Playing with gizmos can be mentally stimulating but physically unchallenging. What to do: Offer gadgets as workout incentives. Some examples: those Velcro mitt-and-ball sets kids love; a stick with a sash attached for a rousing ribbon dance; a new flat, doughnut-shaped Frisbee (easy for young hands to catch); and the good old-fashioned pogo stick and hula hoop.

  5. "I'm too tired." A child who makes a habit of high-fat foods, sugary sodas, and late nights is likely to be lethargic and exercise averse. What to do:Offer energy insurance by providing a balanced diet high in fruits, vegetables, and grains, plus plenty of water. Enforce a reasonable bedtime. "No matter what his interest in exercise," says Dr. Singer, "proper nutrition and rest go a long way toward helping your child feel ready to rock."


Get Your Family Moving! - To print a copy of the below information for parents, click here.



What can parents do to promote family fitness?

Make a conscious effort to do family activities together. When the kids play, join them. There are outdoor activities such as baseball, football, in-line skating and biking that you can do together. You can also include indoor activities such as dancing or playing games with soft, Nerf-type balls.


  • Keep activities and games fun rather than competitive so kids aren't pressured to excel.

  • Remember that you're encouraging children to be active for a lifetime, not just a day.

  • Consciously try to keep your children, and yourself, moving. Young children naturally enjoy moving and being active. But as they get older, they "lose this activity." They're more apt to sit for longer periods of time to watch TV, read books or just hang out with friends. It takes energy from parents to keep them moving! Get yourself moving, and they'll move too!


Is it important for parents to be active if they want their children to be active?

Active parents want their children to be active too! If you're an active parent, you'll automatically look for ways to involve your children in activities. There is an important transfer between parents and kids. Active parents can also be role models by getting their kids to enjoy activities such as hiking, cross-country skiing or swimming at the beach. If kids learn to like "lifetime" activities, they'll always have something to fall back on, as opposed to just learning organized sports. Many times, once children leave high school they have a hard time finding ways to be active because they only played organized sports. Children also need to learn activities they enjoy that don't require a whole team.


Where does healthy eating fit into the fitness formula?

When you eat well, making sure your meals include breakfast, lunch and an afternoon snack in addition to dinner, you have more energy to enjoy being active. Healthy eating can be thought of as "fueling." Parents and children need to think about food as fuel. You have a car, you put gas in it, and you go. You have a body, you put food in it, and you go. Food is not something that is optional; that you don't have time for or that should be viewed as fattening.


How important is physical activity in helping children maintain a healthy weight?

We know the more time kids spend in front of the TV, computer or video games, the more time they spend being inactive. If they are out riding bikes or playing basketball, they are using energy. However, more children today are overweight than ever before. It's largely because kids are not playing the way they once did.


How can we keep children active in the winter when days are shorter and the weather may be cold?

It requires thinking creatively and using the space you have available. A lot depends on what your children's interests are. It could be dancing, playing with foam balls or playing follow the leader. The other alternative is to dress warmly, and send them outside. It's fun to be outdoors in the winter as long as you're dressed warmly, especially in the snow!



Make Family Time An Active Time - To print a copy of the below information for parents, click here.

  • Pump up your family's energy with physical activity.

  • Physical activity is fun, makes you strong, and helps to make you feel good too! Kids are naturally physically active. Help them stay that way.

  • Adults need at least 30 minutes of physical activity on most days, and kids need at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day of the week.


Make it easy to be active: Plan activities for all family members to enjoy 2 - 3 times a month.

  • Go on a family bike ride.

  • Plant a family garden.

  • Pack a picnic meal to eat at the park and go on a family hike.


Set a Good Example! Plan, with your kids, fun activities for the whole family.

  • Make a regular date to walk with friends and neighbors.

  • Join a community activity group, like aerobics or body toning.


Move More. Sit Less! Play - reduce TV watching and increase active play.

  • Tour a local museum, zoo, or historic site for activity and learning.

  • Let kids help with planning ways to move.


Make Play Safe!

  • Set up an area in the home where kids can be active.


Ways to move by doing things you enjoy:

  • Ride a bike

  • Walk the dog

  • Roller skate, scooter, or in-line skate

  • Play basketball, baseball, soccer or football

  • Jump rope or jog in place

  • Mow the grass or rake the lawn

  • Clean the house

  • Swim

  • Dance


To receive a certificate of training hours you must complete a quiz based on the material above. You are required to get all questions correct. If you do not get 100% on the quiz the first time, you may take it over again. The results of the quiz will be emailed to Mid Michigan Child Care Food Program. When we receive the results of your quiz, a certificate of training completed will pop up that you can print. A copy of the certificate will also be emailed to you. 


Childhood Obesity Quiz


bottom of page