Whether we would like to admit it or not, obesity rates among Americans today stands at a whopping 33%. Furthermore, two out of every three Americans are overweight. These rates have been climbing up steadily over the last several years, and are showing no signs of slowing down.

Parents are making progressively more unhealthy food choices, and the results are showing through these mouth-opening statistics. How are these parents supposed to teach healthy eating habits to their children under such circumstances? Your child will often mimic your habits. If you eat healthy, your child is likely to eat healthy as well, because for the most part, you feed him/her. Similarly, if you have bad eating habits, your child will pick up the same habits at a very young age. Therefore, to put a stop to obesity in children, parents must take proactive actions and serve as leading role models to their kids. Below are few tips that can help you (as a parent), avoid uncontrollable weight gain in your young children.

No More Junk Food

Saying no to junk food may be easier said than done, especially when your responsibilities as a parent and a professional worker, leave you with very little time to think through your food choices. Then again, as outlined above, your young children will quickly pick up your eating habits, whether good or bad. Every take home food you bring to them will only serve to enhance their fast food appetite. It wouldn’t be long before they begin to pack up the weight. And as you can guess, the task at hand is much harder when they hit that critical stage of addiction to fast food. So before your children’s unhealthy eating habits clears the stage of no-return, attempt to do the following:

Embrace homemade meals: Cooking your meals at home will allow you to control the ingredients in your food. In addition, cooking the meals yourself will give you the ability to vary your diet. Feeding your kids the same old fast food diet, will not give them the necessary nutrients. You will run the risk of weakening their immune system.

Replace soda with water: Dear parents, I know there are still people out there who swear by soda. Soda is extremely bad for your health (whether diet, or zero). Explain to your kids that soda contains an artificial sweetener called aspartame, that is extremely toxic to the human body, and cause all sorts of chronic diseases in the long run. Slowly by surely, your kids will start incorporating water in their diet, and soon enough, they wouldn’t even remember what soda tastes like.

Cook with your kids: Make cooking a fun and teamwork activity by allowing your children to participate in the kitchen. Select each seasoning and tell your young children the health benefit of each ingredient, and their bad alternatives. Doing so will also force you to learn about how to read food labels. It’s a win-win!

Let your Children Know a Thing or Two about Exercising

You may not be a fan of exercising, but exercising, together with a healthy diet, will save your life. So if you haven’t already begun, you should seriously consider carving out about half hour a day, 5 days a week, to work out.

Get your kids involved in physical activities. For example, take them with you to the park, and bring a soccer ball with you. You don’t have to be a professionally soccer player to enjoy a nice day of ball kicking at the park. If your kids are still too young to run around, just sit them in their stroller, and let them watch you do some jumping jacks, and get your “sweat on”. Kids’ brains register everything they see. It’s in your best interest to have them see you work out on a regular basis.

Avoid smoking

As you can see, if you combine healthy eating habits with regular exercise, you can avoid gaining weight, and by doing so, you will prevent your children from getting obese as well. Also, keep a watchful eye on the healthy living component, and that includes avoiding smoking. Smoking is the mother of a plethora of health issues, from lung cancer to tooth decay to premature death. If you want to grow old with your kids, you need to stay healthy in the first place, and that means leading a healthy life!

Kodjo is a health blogger and fitness enthusiast. When he is not blogging or tweeting about exercising, healthy eating, or dental implants (among other topics), he is probably practicing what he preaches, i.e. eating healthy and exercising. He manages a home workout blog, and has tens of thousands of loyal Twitter Followers @Kodjoworkout.