Childhood Obesity Study Shows Healthy Habits Begin Early

Created: 01/31/2014 5:26 PM
By: Sean Boswell

(ABC 6 News) -- A recent study by the New England Journal of Medicine says kids who are overweight or obese at just 5-years old tend to stay that way into their teens.

"The more your muscles are strong, the more you're energized to do things," said JETS gymnastics coach Leonard Johnson.

Setting a tone for a healthy lifestyle may begin earlier than you'd think. In the study, which looked at nearly 8,000 5-year olds, almost 15% were considered overweight. Nearly a decade later, about half of those children are considered obese at age 14.

"With the junk food and stuff out there, and now with iPad’s and phones and computers, kids get less and less activity because those become babysitting tools," said Johnson.

Johnson says parents play a big part in determining their kids’ lifestyle.

"I’ve had a few of my team students where their parents just decided not to bring them because they didn't want to drive in the cold, that's tough when you're fighting the parents who don't want to go out," said Johnson.

"If you can set a good example by cooking something healthy, making a healthy snack and eating healthy yourself I think that's going to help in the long run with your kids," said Kelly Weiss, a dietitian at Hy-Vee.

Leading by example is important according to Johnson, allowing kids to explore health habits for themselves, will help in the long run.

"Creating dependency is really important, especially so that when they become an adult, they also have that same "I'm going to control my life, not let my life control me," said Johnson.