It’s important to focus on weight loss the right way, Cordraysaid, by adopting healthy eating habits and encouraging physicalactivity. The 1999-2000 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveyreported that 15 percent of American children 6 to 19 years oldare overweight. This triples the percentage of a similar surveyin 1970. By April ReeseUniversity of GeorgiaGetting enough to eat isn’t a problem for most children in theUnited States. Eating the right foods and being active enough tostay healthy, though, is a growing concern. Cordray suggests limiting the time children spend watching TV orsurfing the Internet. She recommends parents get involved in theplay. * Let your children help plan meals, shop for groceries andprepare meals and snacks. A family problem”Weight control is a family problem that requires a familysolution,” she said. “Changes in eating habits and physicalactivity should be adopted by the whole family.”Children learn behaviors from their parents, she said. Andparents can set a good example for them by eating right and beingactive themselves. She suggests some keys to eating right.* Eat together as a family often, so everyone learns healthyeating habits.* Keep nutritious foods and snacks in the kitchen. “Many parents are fearful to allow their children to play outsidein the neighborhood,” she said. “But if parents get involved inthe activity or are at least present, the environments will bemuch safer.” Diabetes risk high”Overweight children are at a high risk for developing Type 2diabetes, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and canexhibit early signs of heart disease,” said Kelly Cordray, anextension nutrition specialist with the University of GeorgiaCollege of Family and Consumer Sciences. “Help an overweight child find activities they enjoy that aren’t too difficult or embarrassing,” she said. “Explore sports thatdevelop confidence and skill, such as tennis, swimming, soccerand softball.” “It’s important to not have battles with children over meals,” she said. “Mealtime should be a pleasant time for everyone tolook forward to. Parents should provide a variety of nutritiousfoods in moderate portions, serving small portions of less-likedfoods.” Active hobbies can be a good source of exercise. Gardening,bicycling, dancing, roller skating and hiking are all effective. * Let the Food Guide Pyramid be a guide, making sure meals arebalanced with foods from all five food groups. Poor eating habits probably aren’t the only reason more childrenare overweight. Rather than exercising, many children are busyplaying video games, watching television and using the computer. You can tell if children (or adults) are overweight or at risk of becoming overweight by their body mass index. Be careful not to overrestrict foods. “Forbidden foods may becomemore desirable for children,” she said. “Other key points toremember are to not use food as a reward and be careful wherechildren eat. They should eat at the table, not in front of theTV.” * Choose beans, fish, poultry and lean meats. “For children, a health professional like a physician or schoolnurse would measure a child’s height and weight and determinetheir BMI,” Cordray said. Comparing that to BMI charts will showwhether the child is overweight or at risk of becomingoverweight. “For children, it’s important to slowly ease into a healthyweight while growing taller,” she said. * Focus on whole grains, vegetables, fruits and low-fat dairyfoods. Physical activity a necessityChildren need at least one hour of physical activity a day,Cordray said. Active play and sports are good. But chores andexercise count, too. * Plan daily snacks like fruit or yogurt, cereal and milk orcrackers. * Limit high-calorie foods, such as cookies, candy, chips andsoft drinks.