Children have become less active which has contributed to the growing epidemic of childhood obesity that is affecting communities across the country.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the prevalence of childhood obesity has tripled in the last 30 years. Children aged six to eleven years old have experienced an increase in obesity from 6.5 percent to 19.6 percent between 1980 and 2008. Rates of obesity among adolescents aged 12 to 19 years have increased from 6.5 percent to 19.6 percent in 1980 to 2008.

“The incidence of childhood obesity in the United States and its consequences are devastating,”Dr. Richard Visser is the Minister of Health in Aruba, a researcher and educator on childhood obesity. “We really have to do something to help the next generation, and we have to start with the parents.”

Recently, Boys & Girls Clubs of America teamed up with the Kimberly-Clark Corporation to produce the first-ever Family Strengthening Virtual Symposium, where Dr. Visser led a powerful session entitled “Our Kids Supersized: How to Prevent Childhood Obesity and Promote Healthy Weight in Youth.”

Dr. Visser said that parents’ lifestyles can have a significant impact on the health and weight of their children. For healthier families, he offered the following tips to caregivers and parents:

* Eat breakfast every day, and enjoy smaller-portioned snacks several times throughout the day.

* Avoid food that contains excessive fat or simple sugars.

* Eat together. Communal eating encourages healthier eating habits.

* Feed kids only when they’re hungry, and eliminate snacking in front of the TV or while playing video games.

* Make sure children get at least 60 minutes of vigorous physical activity every day, and limit electronic device use to no more than two hours per day.

“Getting parents to commit to a healthier lifestyle will greatly impact the lives of their children — from eating right to exercising — it’s an educational process and lifestyle change that needs to happen.”

You can find more tips for parents on the Family PLUS website. Dr. Visser’s session is available at