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Help Your Kids Stay in Shape This Summer

SATURDAY, July 9 (HealthDay News) -- A bit of planning can help parents ensure their children eat right and get enough exercise during the summer, experts say.

To start, parents can seek a minimum commitment from their children of one hour of physical activity a day, suggested Dr. Stephenie Wallace, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

"Set an expectation of doing something in the house -- chores, set some goals and rewards for your young person," she said in a university news release. "Get them to play basketball with their friends or spend some time in the neighborhood, and really encourage them to do so."

Parents should remember that active children need to stay hydrated with water, not calorie-laden sugary drinks, Wallace added.

Summer is also a good time for parents to reinforce healthy eating habits among children.

"One key is to keep healthy foods in the house, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grain granola bars, but don't deprive the kids either," Beth Kitchin, an assistant professor of nutrition sciences at UAB, said in the news release.

"Get the kids involved in choosing foods. Take them grocery shopping. Show them healthy choices and have them choose," she recommended.

The authors said they hope that parent involvement will help prevent more children from becoming overweight or obese. Poor diet and lack of physical activity have led to a tripling of obesity among American children over the last 30 years, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians outlines how parents can pass healthy habits to their children.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: University of Alabama at Birmingham, news release, July 9, 2011

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