Healthy eating tips for families amid increases in childhood obesity

FORT WORTH, Texas (KBTX) – During the pandemic, the national rate of obesity among kids ages two to 19 increased to 22.4 percent in 2020, up from 19.3 percent in 2019. Dr. Franchell Hamilton, a board-certified bariatric surgeon and Founder of NeuroSwitch Weight Loss, joined First News at Four to discuss how parents can teach their kids healthy eating habits.

As a doctor and a parent, Hamilton has seen increases in screen time and processed foods. Both are contributing to childhood obesity.

Hamilton shared the dangers of this trend explaining that “there [have] been over 250 diseases identified to be directly linked by obesity, so with children becoming more overweight and obese earlier they will start getting more medical problems earlier in adulthood.”

Some of the diseases linked with obesity include diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and cancer.

To promote healthy eating, Hamilton recommends parents let kids choose the food that they want.

“I even have my kindergartener packing their own lunch, and they know now they have to eat their fruits or the vegetable or whatever before they can have their treat. Don’t don’t limit treats, don’t deprive them, but let them choose some of the healthier options that they want, and then they can have something like the fruit snacks or the goldfish or whatever it may be,” she said.

She also suggests trying “fun stuff” such as adding ranch dressing to broccoli, having peanut butter with apples or putting strawberries and whipped cream on whole wheat waffles at breakfast.

Parents can also trying asking kids if they are hungry or bored when they say they’re hungry. If the child responds that they’re hungry, try offering them healthy options like fruit or vegetables.

“Giving them options also helps them give some independence and lets them choose and also teaches them that these are much better options,” explained Hamilton.

She added that kids will carry healthy eating habits they are taught into adulthood.

Watch the full interview in the player above.