It’s important that children take steps to stay active and healthy. children

Yet the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that the number of American children who are overweight has experienced a “sharp increase” from the previous decade.

In fact, it’s estimated that nearly one in six children in the U.S. today are overweight. (with some of the highest rates in the US. Carrying those extra pounds can lead to a number of health problems, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

So how can you help your kids fight the battle of the bulge-or avoid becoming overweight in the first place?

These days are not easy for parents. To help, get creative and try these tips:

Eat Smart:

Involve your kids in the meals you eat, every step of the way. Start by taking them grocery shopping. Discuss smart food choices and the importance of eating plenty of fruits and vegetables every day. Let kids pick out some healthy side dishes for dinners and teach them to look at labels before they make a choice. Also, point out that there are a number of foods out there that taste good and are good for them. They shouldn’t associate healthful foods with bad taste. Then, when you get home, have your kids help prepare a healthful dinner.

Watch Smart:

Odds are, your children like watching TV, so you might as well have them get a little exercise while they do it. These days there are TV shows and video games that challenge teens and tweens to bring their best dance moves and get off the couch to join in the fun. An example is GoNoodle, a site dedicated to encouraging kids to lead healthy, balanced active lifestyles. It is free and provides 100s of movement and mindfulness videos for kids. For more information go to www.gonoodle.com/

Be Smart:

overweightParents who are overweight are more likely to have children who are overweight. So you may want to think about leading by example. Make smart lifestyle decisions and explain to your children the reasons you do the things you do. For instance, the next time you drive to the mall with your children, park far away from the entrance. Tell your kids you parked far away because you like to take walks during the day and that exercise helps keep you healthy and happy. It may sound simple, but a little effort can go a long way.