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( — Helping children slim down has become a serious public health challenge, but it’s the habits and practices at home that often determine whether a child becomes obese.

Excess weight, once considered cuddly ‘baby fat,’ can start your child on the path to obesity, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, cardiovascular conditions and other diseases.

Now, Australian researchers have more information on how parents can help ”obese proof” the home. They evaluated what they call the ”obesogenic” potential of households. They did this by examining the relationship between variable factors such as fast food meals and availability of soft drinks with children’s eating habits, TV viewing, and physical activity.

A combination of these habits can make a profound difference. The triple whammy is to get fast food takeout, then go home and eat it in front of the television late in the evening, when it’s hard to get any physical activity after the family meal.

Researchers agree that paying attention to both parts of the scale – reducing risky habits and increasing protective ones – are critical to lowering a child’s odds of gaining weight. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 18.1 percent of American kids ages 12-19 are obese.

The Study

The researchers, from the University of Sydney, polled 1,685 children from grades 6, 8, and 10 and their parents. They generated two scales to look at the relationship between the children’s eating, activity, and screen time. One scale was on the control of obesity, those factors that reduce risk. The other was a risk scale, factors that increase the risk of obesity.

Higher scores on the control scale were linked with the youths eating healthier foods and less junk food, getting more exercise, and watching TV less.

Among the practices or behaviors that reduced obesity risk for kids:

  •     Parents who could control their child’s intake of soft drinks
  •     Parents who could inspire their child to be physically active
  •     Having rules about television viewing
  •     Frequent breakfast eating
  •     Offering their child water to drink with meals

The practices or behaviors that increased the obesity risk in children included:

Obese-Proof Your Home  was originally published on

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