Kids Won't Eat Veggies? Let the Experts Help

Parents looking for tips on how to get their children to eating healthier and get more exercise can turn to this new resource from the AAP.

Child obesity is an epidemic, with nearly one-third of children overweight or obese. To help parents guide their families in healthy lifestyles, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has created a series of audio interviews with pediatricians who are experts in nutrition and fitness and can help get kids to eat healthier. The interviews are posted on two sites: Sound Advice on Healthy Living and the AAP parenting site.

“We want to empower families to take action in their homes and communities,” said O. Marion Burton, MD, FAAP, president of the AAP. “By forming these habits now, parents prepare their children to grow into healthy, active adults.”

At the Sound Advice on Healthy Living site, parents can listen as pediatricians answer common questions:

  • If parents are concerned about their child’s weight, what should they do?
  • What strategies work best with picky eaters?
  • How can families make healthy choices in restaurants?
  • Should children take a multivitamin?
  • How important are omega-3 fatty acids for children?
  • How can families incorporate exercise into busy schedules?
  • What can parents do if it’s unsafe for kids to play outdoors?

“Families need all the encouragement we can give them,” said Sandra Hassink, MD, FAAP, chair of the AAP Obesity Leadership Workgroup and one of the featured experts on Sound Advice, in a press release. “In an environment that’s not so healthy for children, families often feel that they’re engaged in an uphill battle. But children will do what the parents do. The first thing parents can do is to assess their own diet—what kinds of foods are in the house, how much they’re eating out — and try to move their lifestyle to a healthier diet.”

In Sound Advice on Healthy Living, Hassink answers questions about the impact of obesity on a child’s health, and provides simple steps families can take to encourage healthy habits. Interviews also include conversations with neonatologist Jatinder Bhatia, MD, FAAP, on infant nutrition and with Ruth Lawrence, MD, FAAP, on the challenges and benefits of breastfeeding. Claire M. A. LeBlanc, MD, FAAP, discusses the best types of physical activity for children at different ages. Nicolas Stettler, MD, FAAP, explains which vitamins and minerals are most essential and how to make sure children are getting enough.

Jennifer Shu, MD, FAAP, and Laura Jana, MD, FAAP, coauthors of the AAP book “Food Fights: Winning the Nutritional Challenges of Parenthood Armed With Insight, Humor and a Bottle of Ketchup,” give their top strategies for navigating restaurant menus and enticing picky eaters at the dinner table. Marsha Raulerson, MD, FAAP, describes how her community created a healthier environment — and how other communities can do the same. And Don Shifrin, MD, FAAP, gives advice on everything from the importance of breakfast to understanding food labels. Transcripts of the interviews are available on the site.

Will you recommend this resource to parents who are having trouble getting their children to adopt healthier lifestyles? What are the biggest challenges and physicians and parents face in doing this?