Over the past three decades, the rate of childhood obesity in the United States has tripled. Nearly one in three of our children is overweight or obese,and less than 22 percent of them are getting the recommended amounts of fruit and vegetables each day.The health and future of our children is in jeopardy, and the implications are serious.

To put it in perspective, one in five children now faces increased risks for serious obesity-related conditions. In fact, Type-2 Diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol are striking our children more than ever before. To put it plainly, if we can’t stop this trend, today’s generation of children will be the first to live shorter lives than their parents.

The path to obesity

Our children’s lifestyle has changed dramatically over the past two decades. From physical education classes being cut in schools to the explosive popularity of video games and social networking, our children’s concept of "play" now involves a chair and a scree. Yet this is only just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many factors that have a hand in the diminishing quality of our children's health; we must recognize and address each of them.

"Through diet, activity, and family involvement, you can take ownership of your child’s and your family’s health."

Food portions, for instance, have gotten bigger, fast food is seemingly everywhere and our culture promotes less physical activity. It all adds up to our children eating more bad food and moving less. And often, economically disadvantaged kids live in “food deserts,” where access to healthy food is limited. We have to provide balance.

For starters, it’s important that schools promote healthy lifestyles through gym classes and cafeteria menus, but it’s more important to realize that our children’s habits have come from the people they look up to most: us, their parents. From the choices we make at the dinner table to the way we spend our free time, we have created what experts call an “obesogenic environment,” which means we’ve made it easy for our children to gain weight and all the more difficult to lose it. It’s imperative that we introduce healthy changes into every aspect of our family's lives. And the best way to enact positive change is by doing it together.

The solution is easy

The keys to success are simple: make the healthy moves together. Whether it’s letting your child choose a new fruit or vegetable in the store to include at the dinner table or discovering a new outdoor sport everyone can enjoy, positive change is possible when the steps are fun. Use this summer to get your family off the couch, get them outside, and explore the world as a family. Just an hour of physical activity a day will positively impact their health—and your relationship with them as well.

Through diet, activity, and family involvement, you can take ownership of your child’s and your family’s health. We can raise a healthier generation, but it is up to each and every one of us to excite our children about making those healthier lifestyle choices and reverse the health crisis that is affecting their generation.