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Publication #FAR8038

Preventing Childhood Obesity through Physical Activity1

Linda Bobroff2

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Many parents are concerned about rising rates of childhood obesity. It's important to keep a healthy perspective on the situation and not overreact with overly restrictive approaches that can do more harm than good. One way to promote healthy weights in children is to help them to be physically active.

There are infinite possibilities for children to be physically active that also promote family fun and unity. Get together for a family walk at least once a day, whenever you can fit it into your schedule. Play actively together in the house or outside as the weather permits. Throw a ball, kick a soccer ball, shoot hoops, or just enjoy plain old horseplay for fun. Have a tickle party or a fun game of silly charades, and get the benefits of a good giggle, which is exercise for the insides!

When you take a family vacation or just a weekend away from the routine, be sure to include active fun, like hiking, jogging, swimming, flying a kite, playing ball, or other active play.

As part of keeping young people active, limit TV and other screen time to two hours or less each day. When your children do watch television, encourage them to do something physical during the commercials! Modeling these behaviors will encourage young children to be like mom or dad, so get down on the floor and do some push-ups or crunches and maybe your children will join you, to keep the whole family fit and healthy.

Listening, learning, and living together: it's the science of life. "Family Album" is a co-production of University of Florida IFAS Extension, the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, and of WUFT-FM. If you'd like to learn more, please visit our website at

To listen to the radio broadcast:


American Academy of Pediatrics. (n.d.) Children's health topics: Overweight and obesity. Retrieved August 31, 2005, from

American Academy of Pediatrics. (n.d.) Television and the family. [29 October 2012] from

Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. (2004). Childhood obesity in the United States: Facts and figures. [25 September 2012].

Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. (2004). Parents can play a role in preventing childhood obesity. [25 September 2012].

Sorgen, C. (2005). Fitness for couch potatoes. [25 September 2012].



This document is FAR8038, one of a series of the Family Youth and Community Sciences Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Broadcast as program 264 in April 2009. Published on EDIS September 2012. In the interest of time and/or clarity, the broadcast version of this script may have been modified. Visit the EDIS website at


Linda Bobroff, associate professor, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.