Okay, we’ve got good news and bad news. First, the good: according to a new report from the CDC, obesity rates in the U.S. seem to finally be leveling off. Now for the not-so-good news: that same report shows that 42% of obese American youths between the ages of 8 and 15 perceive their weight as normal.
This lack of self-perception in children and adolescents is alarming, and makes it very likely that obese children won’t take steps to get to a healthier weight. What’s more, 35% of obese children go on to become obese adults, ensuring that the obesity epidemic is passed on to the next generation.
So how do we solve this problem?
Thankfully, according to David Katz, a guest lecturer at Integrative Nutrition, educating children about healthy eating is a simple way to combat a daunting issue.
As health-conscious adults, we can get caught up in ideas like glycemic index, complex carbohydrates, and processed vs unprocessed food. When talking with kids, however, Dr. Katz explains that hands-on exercises and simple concepts are most effective at helping kids truly change their habits.
This means talking in terms of food, explaining that it’s best to choose items that come directly from nature, like produce, whole grains, beans, and lentils. As children get older, you can introduce more nuanced nutritional concepts, but it’s important to set concrete healthy habits early on.
Following this philosophy, Dr. Katz created Nutrition Detectives, an innovative program that educates elementary school kids about healthy eating by teaching them to identify and choose healthy foods as well as read food labels.
To learn more about Dr. Katz’s food philosophy, listen to our exclusive interview with him!