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Study: Obesity Prevention Should Focus on Day Care

Lax Regulation Means Many Kids Don’t Get Enough Healthy Foods or Exercise

What Parents Can Do continued...

Ask how food is served. Meals dished up family-style, where kids can help themselves to bowls of food, teach kids how to take responsibility for what’s on their plate.

“It kind of gives them a better sense of what to eat, rather than giving them a big of pile of something they may not really want,” Ammerman tells WebMD.

Ask to see a menu. “When you look at a menu, you can look at a couple of things at a glance. Are children served the same thing every Tuesday-Thursday? That’s not a lot of variety,” Benjamin Neelon says. More variety means more nutrients.

Fried foods -- including chicken nuggets, fish sticks, and french fries -- should be another red flag.

Talk to the staff. Ammerman recommends starting a dialogue with the day care staff about how kids are doing at mealtimes and whether they’re willing to try new things.

That feedback can be helpful at home, too. If a child who never eats beans at home loves the beans at day care, get the recipe, she says.

“Like any sort of parental thing, being engaged in the process is half the battle,” Ammerman says.

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