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Show Your Children How to Live a Healthy Life

Photo: A girl with an appleIt is never too early or too late to address the health of your family. Here are a few ideas for showing your children how to live a healthy life.


As a parent, the things you do and say have a tremendous influence on your child's behavior. Encourage your child to live a healthy lifestyle by talking the talk and walking the walk. Don't know where to start?  Here are a few ideas.

Eat Right

There are many ways to assure that you have a healthy diet. One is to get enough fruit and vegetables each day. A growing body of research shows that fruits and vegetables are critical to promoting good health. To get the amount that's recommended, most people need to increase the amount of fruits and vegetables they currently eat every day.

Action steps:

  • Keep a bowl of fresh fruit on your kitchen counter.
  • Place a box of raisins in your child's backpack and in your briefcase.
  • Add strawberries, blueberries or bananas to your cereal, oatmeal, or toast.
  • Read more about nutrition for everyone in your family.

Engage in Physical Activity

Photo: Two boys and a bowling ballRegular physical activity is important for all age groups.  Being active helps control your weight, strengthen your bones and muscles, improve your mental health and mood, and reduces your risk of many life-threatening diseases.

Action steps:

  • Encourage your children to be active for at least one hour a day.
  • Set a positive example by leading an active lifestyle yourself.
  • Take family walks or play active games together.
  • Read more about physical activity guidelines.

Take Care of Your Teeth

Photo: Girls brushing their teethDid you know that even though tooth decay is largely preventable it affects millions of Americans each year? Untreated cavities can cause pain, inability to eat comfortably or chew well, and embarrassment at discolored and damaged teeth—problems that can greatly affect the self-esteem and quality of life of children and adults.

Action steps:

  • Use fluoride toothpaste.
  • Drink fluoridated water when available.
  • Schedule oral health examinations for yourself and your child as recommended by your dentist.
  • Learn more about protecting your oral health.

Avoid Tobacco Use

Avoiding all forms of tobacco will reduce the chance that your children will grow up using tobacco themselves. Cigarettes, cigars, and spit tobacco—as well as the chemicals found in secondhand smoke—hurt your health and are known to cause cancer. Babies who are around tobacco smoke have weaker lungs than other babies. They are more likely to have other health problems such as infections and more frequent asthma attacks. Being around cigarette smoke is also a known cause of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). There is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke and eliminating smoking in indoor spaces is the only way to fully protect nonsmokers from exposure to secondhand smoke.

Cover: Preventing Chronic DiseaseAction steps:

  • If you use tobacco, free quit support is available at 1-800-QUITNOW (1-800-784-8669).
  • Don't allow smoking in your home or car.
  • Talk to your kids about avoiding tobacco use.
  • Learn more about Youth Tobacco Prevention.

It is never too early or too late to address the health of your family. CDC's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion supports a variety of activities that improve the health of children and adults by preventing chronic diseases and their risk factors. For an overview of how the Center works to protect your family's health before conception throughout the life cycle, read Ties That Bind in the January 2009 issue of Preventing Chronic Disease Journal. The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention   1600 Clifton Rd. Atlanta, GA 30333, USA
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