Letters to the Editor

Family meals create healthy habits

In 2001, Family Day began as a national initiative to recognize parental engagement as an effective tool to help keep America’s kids substance free. What began as a grassroots effort to inform parents about the benefits of frequent family dinners has now expanded to include the promotion of healthy eating and good nutrition in order to help prevent the obesity in children and teens.

The percentage of overweight children in the United States is growing at an alarming rate, with one out of three children and teens now considered overweight or obese. Preparing and sharing nutritious, home-cooked meals as a family can help prevent obesity by providing nutrition and the basis for making future healthy food choices.

Encourage children to get involved with planning and preparing healthy meals. Take them along when you go grocery shopping so they can learn how to make good food choices — fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats — while avoiding added sugars and processed foods.

On Sept. 22, parents are encouraged to recognize the important role healthy eating habits play in the prevention of obesity by setting aside time to share a nutritious meal with their children. This creates an opportunity to connect as well as develop healthy eating habits in children that will last a lifetime.

Talk to your children about the importance of eating well and make it a family affair. Assure them they are loved, no matter their weight, and that you want to help them be happy and healthy.

To learn more about Family Day, visit www.casafamilyday.org. To read more about the Ounce of Prevention Fund of Florida’s efforts to help families raise healthy and productive children, visit www.ounce.org .

Anita Odom, executive director,

Prevent Child Abuse Florida, Tallahassee