While age-old ideas of health and wellness have shaped the way families eat and exercise, it may be time to change your way of thinking. From encouraging an active lifestyle to snacking before dinner, take a look at the five top health myths your family let go of — and tools for what you can do instead.
- Being overweight is genetic. There are very few inherited conditions that cause a person to be overweight. If an entire family is overweight, it's most likely that only the habits have been passed down through generations.
- I'm not athletic. A half-hour walk every day is an effective part of getting fit, says Jay Hoecker, MD, pediatric editor of the Mayo Clinic. Mind you, it's not at window-shopping pace. Think about getting your blood pumping.
- Talking about weight encourages eating disorders. Talking about the importance of physical health is key, but "be positive with your kids. Don't nag them," says fitness expert Denise Austin. "The best way is to teach by example, and to put the emphasis on exercise, not the weight," says Hoecker. "Don't let food be a reward or punishment. Reward with activities and more time together."
- It's just baby fat. Hoecker says that if a child is obese before age 6, the probability increases that he or she will be obese as an adult. Consult with your pediatrician about what a healthy height-weight ratio is, and, if necessary, about a sensible way to take off the weight.
- Kids shouldn't snack between meals. Nibbling on healthy items such as fruit or nuts can help prevent overeating during mealtimes. Play the portion-control game and learn more about nutrition at the CDC's nutrition site.