Want to be a model?

Maj. Lori Sydes
William Beaumont Army Medical Center

Being a model seems like such a glamorous life: you jet off to exotic places, wear fancy clothes and have a fat bank account.

For most of us however, being a supermodel is not a viable occupation.
But if you have children, you are a model – a role model.

Unfortunately, when it comes to weight, our children are experiencing what many adults experience – an expanding waistline. Presently, nine million children over 6 years of age are considered obese.

The causes for this rise in children’s weight are interrelated and complex.

Food portion sizes have increased, but physical activity has decreased. Some estimate school-age children spend 6.5 hours a day in front of television, computers and video games. Children consume more soft drinks than ever before and eat more of their meals away from home. Fast food accounts for more than half of these meals.

You have the primary responsibility for monitoring what your children eat, and where and when they eat. Studies show that children’s food preferences are shaped by what their parents eat.

Chances are that as a parent your eating habits could stand some improvements.

An easy way to check is to write down everything you ate yesterday then go online to www.mypyramid.gov. Enter your age, gender and activity level. You’ll find out the amounts you should eat from each food group. Compare yesterday’s diet to the pyramid results. Is there room for improvement? Set a few simple goals for yourself and then “model” your behavior for your children.

Studies show that when you repeatedly offer a new food (up to 10 different times) you increase the chance that your child will accept it. Be vigilant; your child may just surprise you.

Some more “modeling” tips:

• Have one family meal together every day.
• Use the “My Pyramid” as a guide in menu planning for the whole family.
• Involve your children with reading food labels, encouraging food choices based on fiber or fat content.
• Allow your children to express hunger and fullness; praise them when they respond to their own internal cues.
For more information, see a registered dietitian at your medical treatment facility.