As parents, the best thing we can do is give our children what they need to live happy lives, and that begins with creating healthy eating habits. More children are suffering from obesity than ever before and at younger ages, and the statistics are staggering. Since 1980, obesity rates among teenagers has quadrupled, from 5% to 20.6%. Worse, a recent study indicates that 57% of today’s children will be obese by the time they are 35. So, the question that immediately comes to a parent’s mind is, what can you do?

One way to combat the childhood obesity epidemic is by setting a healthy foundation early on that will establish a healthy precedent for their adult lives. Here is everything as a parent that you need to know and tips to avoid this potentially life threatening health problem. 

Because this issue is so important we called on the expertise from Jayde Smith, a certified PHD Health Consultant and Primal Blueprint Certified Expert as well as the owner of the Ormond Beach PHD Weight Loss location to get the intel on everything we need to know about understanding childhood obesity. And most importantly, how to avoid common misconceptions about nutrition. 

What Is Obesity?

Obesity is diagnosed when a weight that is “higher than what is considered healthy for a given height” according to the CDC. Body Mass Index is one tool to determine whether a person should be diagnosed as obese. Research shows that if children are obese in preschool, the likelihood they will continue to be obese as adults is “overwhelming” that they will stay that way. Source: More than Half of Today’s Children Will Be Obese Adults

It’s Not Just About Food Intake

According to Dr. Ashley Doyle Lucas, the founder of the PHD Weight Loss Approach, “childhood obesity includes many more factors than just their day to diet.” These factors include stressful events, genetics, community design, and sleep. Concentrating on the food intake alone, is just one of many misconceptions when it comes to nutrition, and in particular, childhood obesity. Here are five common misconceptions about childhood obesity: 

1. Obesity Is A Cosmetic Concern

Obesity is exponentially more serious than a cosmetic concern. Although many people struggle to define what obesity is and what it is not. It is not an eating disorder; however, some consider it a disease – but that depends on who you ask. The Mayo Clinic defines obesity as a “complex disease involving an excessive amount of body fat.” Obesity brings with it more than a “cosmetic concern,” including increased risks of various health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and certain cancers.  Source: Mayo Clinic.

2. Talking About Obesity Will Make It Worse 

It’s a hard topic. Many are afraid of approaching the discussion of obesity because they fear they will cause emotional harm, possibly resulting in later body image issues. It is a delicate issue that should be approached with careful attention, however, according to the statistics, it is not a problem that will go away on its own. Thus, avoiding the issue will not help and possibly can make matters worse. Seek the advice of a professional and ask for suggestions for how to approach health issues with your child. 

3. Misleading Food Labels

Misreading food labels is common. Organic, gluten free, all natural, multigrain and other labels do not guarantee that the food is nutritious. And it makes sense, organic goldfish do not provide any nutritional value.“Don’t mistake the words to mean nutritious,” says Jayde. “These words do not mean the food is healthy.”

4. Eat That Broccoli If You Want Dessert

In the quest to encourage your child to eat a vegetable, this phrase is common. If your child actually eats the broccoli; this one might feel like a victory at the time. The problem is that children begin forming food associations where they value certain food over another. Rather than use junk food as a reward try rewarding behavior with a trip to the park or fun activity. 

5. Not Nourishing Yourself 

It’s not just about your child’s eating habits – it is about yours too. Ignoring your own health can impact your children’s eating habits because children mimic adults. As a parent you set the model and influence your child the most on what to eat. The best way to counter bad eating habits is to set an example of creating a healthy lifestyle of eating nourishing food. Avoid fad diets that set a bad example for your child. There is no reason to categorize food as “good” or “bad” as this can make the “bad” food more desirable.  

No one is perfect.  If you eat unhealthy on occasion, balance is best. Remember, providing nutritious food for yourself will be the best way to provide nutritious food for your child. Here are some tips to help your child enjoy a healthy lifestyle. 

  • Play. Being active as a kid does not mean spending an hour on the treadmill. It simply means movement, as in playing, rather than spending time in front of a screen. That can look like a trip to the beach, martial arts, riding a bike, or even an epic dance party in the living room.  
  • Make it flavorful. No one likes plain food, including your kids! When serving healthy foods, flavor the food just as you would for an adult. 
  • Be Prepared. Get children involved in the preparation process. From grocery shopping to preparing the actual meal, children will have more of an invested interest in food they helped create. 
  • Thank You Bite. Jayde encourages parents to try a method she refers to as the “thank you bite.” For parents worried about their child’s vegetable consumption, this tactic eliminates the pressure for both parent and child.  Encourage your child to at least try the vegetable. If they would like more they can say, “Thank you, I would like more.” If they do not want more, they can say “No thank you.” 

PHD Superkids Free Nutrition Education and Behavior Program

Beginning October 2, 2019, PHD in collaboration with the YMCA is offering a 6 Week program to children ages 7-12. This free program is designed to teach kids to understand the food building blocks, good habits, and good health hygiene in terms they understand.  

For more information or to register, call PHD Weight Loss at (386) 238-9222 or email

childhood obesity awareness program

For more on health and wellness, check out 8 Workout Tips For The Busy Mom


Childhood Obesity Trends
More than Half of Today’s Children Will Be Obese Adults
Healthy Eating Starts With Parent Role Models

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