Lt Col Reynolds
Developing a healthy lifestyle is the primary way to maintain a normal weight and prevent obesity. Making healthy lifestyle choices is not only good for preventing weight gain, but can also help patients lose the extra weight they may already have.
Lt Col Phillips
That’s right, Dr. Reynolds. And it comes as no surprise that many of the lifestyle habits we have as adults were established during childhood. Children whose parents encourage them to make healthy choices when they’re young are more likely to successfully prevent obesity when they’re adults. A healthy diet and appropriate activity level are both key to preventing obesity. Dr. Bethea, what can you tell us about the relationship between obesity prevention and lifestyle?
You know, Dr. Phillips, regardless of age, there are many choices that can help people effectively avoid excess weight gain. These include:
- Follow a healthy eating plan. Focusing on energy balance will assist people in making healthy food choices. It can be helpful to develop a habit of obtaining information about the quantity and quality of calories that are contained in the foods that we eat.
- Focus on portion size. When we eat out, restaurants typically serve twice as much food as we need, if not more. So preparing smaller meals at home or using portion control when eating out can allow patients to consume healthier portion sizes. Many Americans were encouraged to clean their plates when they were younger, but this typically results in overeating, especially when dessert is offered as a reward. This then adds extra food to a diet that has already exceeded its portion needs. Instead, it can be helpful to develop a habit of stopping when the body is full, and keeping the rest for a later meal.
- Be active on a regular basis. Try to find activities that are enjoyable and that include aerobic or muscle-strengthening activities, or both. It’s often helpful to do these activities with family or friends because it typically makes it more enjoyable.
- Decrease the amount of screen time. Limiting the use of TVs, computers, and videogames will make more time for physical activity. It’s generally recommended that non-work- or homework-related screen time should not exceed two hours a day.
- Keep track of weight, body mass index, and waist circumference. This will allow people to maintain a higher awareness of their health, as well as understanding how these bodily changes are affected by diet and physical activity.
Although it’s not always easy, developing these habits can help to not only achieve physical health, but mental and social health as well.
 “No More ‘Clean Plate Club,’” https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/nutrition/Pages/The-Clean-Plate-Club.aspx, accessed July 7, 2016.
 “How Can Overweight and Obesity Be Prevented?” http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/obe/prevention, accessed July 7, 2016.