To keep kids from getting fat, use smaller plates and portions, limit TV viewing and make sure they get 10 hours of sleep a night

Kentucky ranks high in child obesity. Parents can make sure their children maintain a healthy weight with three simple suggestions highlighted in recent studies: Serve them meals on smaller, child-size plates, pay attention to what they watch on TV, and make sure they get enough sleep.

In Kentucky, almost 18 percent of middle-school-age children and 16 percent of elementary-age kids are obese, and every third child born who was in the U.S. in 2000 will develop Type 2 diabetes if current trends continue, says a recent report from the University of Kentucky‘s College of Public Health.

The three suggestions are based on three new studies in the April issue of Pediatrics.

One study found first-graders served themselves larger food portions and consumed almost 50 percent of the extra calories they put on their plates when using adult-sized dinner plates instead of child-sized salad plates, reports Michelle Healy of USA Today.
A second study examined the relationship between heavy use of media  and increased body mass index,  a measure based on height and weight that can classify someone as being overweight or obese. It found that TV usage is the most problematic and leads to higher BMI scores, reports Healy. One reason for this may be that TV advertising includes commercials for unhealthy snack foods. Or, perhaps kids are missing out on exercise because they watch so much TV. 

A new sleep study adds to research saying that insufficient sleep may contribute to the rise in adolescent obesity because it changes hormone levels that could lead to overeating and weight gain, reports Healy.

These findings support existing recommendations to help children attain and keep a healthy weight according the UK report. Portion sizes should be a third of adult portions for younger children and two-thirds of adult portions for older children; children’s TV screen time should be limited to two hours per day; and children should get 10 hours of sleep each night.

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