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What steps can be taken to prevent or treat obesity?

Helping children develop a love for physical activity and healthy food choices is paramount to prevention. Those healthy lifestyle habits are more likely to last a lifetime if they are developed early. The opposite is also true--get your kids to enjoy fast food meals, soft drinks and television viewing, and they'll be more likely to take those unhealthy habits into adulthood as well--the unhealthy consequences are obvious. Simply limiting television and video watching can result in weight loss! Healthy lifestyle habits are not just dependent on personal choices, however.

Building schools within walking distance of homes, creating safe neighborhoods, building community recreation space, making sure all members of the community have access to a safe, wholesome and affordable food supply--all will impact overall health and obesity rates. It's always better to prevent, than to treat. And in the majority of the cases in the U.S., obesity is the result of our sedentary lifestyles complemented with abundant portions of calorie-rich foods.

Melinda Hemmelgarn, M.S., R.D., Former Nutritional Sciences Specialist, University of Missouri-Columbia

University of Missouri Extension Site Administrator: 

Last updated:06/17/2015
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