"We can help kids develop healthy habits by adopting them ourselves," says Dr. Oz. And you want to start early because heart disease begins in childhood. Fatty streaks (the beginnings of plaque buildup) can be found in kids as young as 2. Recently, researchers discovered that obese children are developing the kind of artery stiffness that's not usually seen until middle age. Here, Dr. Oz explains how to get your child on track.
If your kid eats too much junk food...
Dr. Oz says: Make healthier choices at the supermarket so there isn't junk food around your house. The whole family has to make an effort to make good food accessible. If Dad regularly brings home pepperoni pizza, this won't work. With younger children, use positive peer pressure. My wife, Lisa, and I have four children, and we made sure that our first one ate right and used her to influence our other children's eating habits.
If your kid spends too much time playing video games or watching TV...
Dr. Oz says: Get your teen or tween involved in team sports—try many until she settles on one she likes. When you spend time together as a family, make it active time. Instead of going to a movie, go for a walk and find ways to make it interesting. Or take up a sport like tennis that you can all play together. The more you make physical activities fun, the more in shape your kids will be.
If your kid won't drink anything but sugary soda...
Dr. Oz says: Establish a rule that soft drinks are for special occasions only and don't routinely keep them in the house. And be sure to always follow your own rules. If your child sees you drinking soda all the time, it'll be that much harder to tell him he can't drink it. Be creative with fun "mocktails"—mix sparkling water or seltzer with a splash of juice and top it with a lime or orange slice.