It’s important that children take steps to stay active and healthy. Yet the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that the percent of American children who are overweight has more than doubled since 1980. In fact, it's estimated that about 15 % of all children in the U.S. today are overweight-and carrying those extra pounds can lead to a number of health problems, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

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

Get creative, 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. Kids can tune in and dance along with shows that feature dancing and have dance competitions tha show teens and tweens bringing their best dance moves to the show and viewers are encouraged to get off the couch and join in the fun. Also fun for kids are video games that encourage moving along with co competing with the game.

Be Smart

Parents 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.