Kids in America are continuing to grow and grow, and not in the way that make us proud. Our kids are becoming fatter and fatter and not enough is being done to prevent it. As families face increase pressures due to the economic downturn, kids are suffering in terms of their nutritional intake. It may be easier to feed our kids what is fast and easy—pop a box from the freezer and pop it in the microwave.

Sadly these quick fix meals are really a quick way to becoming overweight as they are loaded with salt and sugars and other hidden ingredients that cause further cravings for the same kind of bad food. So what can parents do to prevent this epidemic from getting worse and causing increased disease among our young people.

Five Tips to Help your Kids from Becoming Overweight

1. Find other fast-and-easy ways to create healthful meals.  

It may seem like it is faster and easier to eat from a box, but often it is just as quick to have fresh foods that aren’t pre-packaged. Grab some green veggies from the fresh vegetable section from the supermarket and a lean protein such as chicken breasts. These simple and healthful meals are as easy to prepare as something that comes from a box, yet they are devoid of high sodium, sugar, and trans-fats. Avoid giving your kids sugary snacks throughout the day. Offer them fresh fruit instead of ice cream.

2. Avoid at all costs juices, juice boxes, flavored water, and soda.

None of us want our kids to drink straight sugar, yet that is what is happening when they drink the above mentioned items. These drinks have very little if no nutrition in them yet are loaded with sugars. Read the labels and know that not all sugars are listed as sugar.  Look for high fructose corn syrup and other disguised sugars.

3. Pay attention to how you eat and communicate about food. 

Kids pick up on everything we do and this does not stop when it comes to our own nutrition and eating habits. If we eat poorly we can certainly expect that our kids will too. If you say that you hate spinach, so will your child. Eat a variety of fresh foods and offer the same to your kids and they will learn to eat a healthy and varied diet.

4. Healthy eating does not happen only in one meal.

This is important for parents to know. We can all get so caught up if our child has one “bad” meal, but healthy eating happens over time. It is important to continue this trend of healthy eating gradually and not get so worried if there is a lapse here and there. Sometimes the parent that is hyper focused on eating and weight can cause the other extreme of eating disorders. It is imperative that parents have their own issues around food and weight resolved so that they don’t indirectly place them onto the child.

5. Move, move, and move again. Kids have become too sedentary. 

Television, the Internet, texting, and social media sites are culprits when it comes to kids just sitting around. The old days of playing outside are long gone, yet they need to be brought back.  Restrict the computers, TV, and cell phones and get your kids outside and moving.  Have fun and do this every day.

Child obesity is preventable. Pay attention to the simple things mentioned and you will be on your way to providing your child with a healthy eating lifestyle and one that is filled with fun activity. Employ the steps together as a family and you will not only have a healthier lifestyle, but also more enjoyable times together as a family.

Jennifer Kelman has a BA in Sociology from American University and a Masters in Social Work from New York University and has worked with children in a variety of psychiatric and medical settings. She is the Creator of Mrs. Pinkelmeyer, who inspires self-esteem in children through her love, warmth, and silliness and author of the children's book, Mrs. Pinkelmeyer and Moopus McGlinden Burn the Rrrrump Rrrroast, available on at online booksellers.