Columbus, Ga. – The CDC reported that childhood obesity affected 19.7% of people between the ages of 2 and 19 years old. That’s around 14.7 million children and adolescents. For parents and caregivers to stop that trend, health experts say it starts with healthy habits at home. Morgan Scheu is a pediatric and neo natal dietician, and believes that a good to incorporate those lessons is including children in every step of preparing and eating meals.

“Let them plan a physical activity. Let them help you shop, prepare the meals and just incorporate them and have it be a family affair,” said Scheu.

A big focus is to help kids create a healthy relationship with food. That means also not doing some of those traditional lessons at the dinner table.

“I know the old habits of not leaving the dinner table until we clear our plates. Or yelling at them to make sure they eat their fruits and vegetables we want to avoid that too. We want to make sure that we’re creating healthy environments when it comes to meal time for our kids. Because that’ only create a healthier relationship that they have with food later on when they’re an adult,” said Scheu.

There’s a concern that creating healthy meals can be too expensive, but there are ways to buy healthy ingredients without breaking the budget.

“Utilize your local SNAP, WIC, food pantries, farmer’s markets. Farmer’s market also provides SNAP benefits now,” said Scheu.

The experts also want parents to remember that they are the ultimate role models. To also teach that these healthy habits are more than about numbers on a scale.

“You as their parent they’re constantly watching you as a role model to see what are your healthy behaviors. What are your healthy habits. What are your exercise habits, and your that role model for your child. So the better you can create that and instill that in a young age. They’re going to take that and remember that those healthy habits are much more than just weight. They have long term health effects as well,” said Scheu.