An exhausting routine of soccer practices, work deadlines, and early morning wake-ups makes it understandably easy to put healthy family eating on the back burner. But as time-strapped families trade in big salads for Big Macs, it's no surprise that scales nationwide are buckling under the pressure. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than a third of American adults are obese. But the expanding-waistline epidemic impacts far more than just the quality of life among adults. A 2008 Journal of the American Medical Association report puts the number of overweight or obese children at 16 percent, with another 16 percent knocking on the door.
According to Sally Phillips, RD, a nutrition expert at Ohio's Akron Children's Hospital, a child who has an unhealthy body weight not only often has self-esteem issues but is also at increased risk for type 2 diabetes, hypertension, elevated blood cholesterol and triglycerides, and orthopedic problems, “health problems that possibly could impact life expectancy,” she says. Childhood obesity that progresses into grown-up obesity is linked to increased artery wall thickness — a marker for atherosclerosis. And because many overweight children do indeed become plump adults, lifestyle modification at an early age should be emphasized. Try these no-fuss strategies from experts to overcome today's biggest pitfalls of sound family nutrition.