By Angela Hynes
Faced several times a day with your toddler’s very age-typical reflexive answer to all food (“No!”), you may not have had much cause to consider the statistics on overweight school children yet. Who has time to think that far ahead when you’re just trying to get him to eat something—anything—healthful? For the record, according to the Centers for Disease Control, overweight and obesity rates in children ages 6 to 19 have tripled since 1980.
The problem can start even younger, and “if they’re already overweight as toddlers, their chances of becoming overweight as adults are much higher,” says Jennifer Shu, M.D., coauthor with Laura A. Jana, M.D., of Food Fights: Winning the Nutritional Challenges of Parenthood Armed with Insight, Humor and a Bottle of Ketchup (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2007), and a medical expert for cnnhealth.com.
As moms, both women take a reality-based approach to food-related challenges, but one that is backed up by their credentials as pediatricians. Here are some of the strategies they recommend for taking advantage of this perfect time to set up your toddler for a lifetime of healthy eating and good attitudes toward food.