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Tips for Talking to Kids about Nutrition and Physical Activity

As the adult in charge, what you say, and the language that you use, is very important for communicating positive messages about healthy eating and physical activity to children.

  • Focus on the importance of nutrition and physical activity for feeling good and staying healthy. Avoid connecting eating well and staying active to losing weight or being slim. For example, do not use statements like, "drinking water will keep you from becoming overweight." Water is good for everyone, not just those who want to lose weight.
  • Talk about how eating well and being physically active is fun, makes you feel good, and give you energy! Share stories about eating healthy and being active. Avoid discussions that focus on losing weight.
  • Do not talk about dieting - for yourself or for children. If parents bring up a concern about a child's weight, advise them to speak with their pediatrician.
  • If a child asks you a question about nutrition that you do not know the answer to, avoid answering with your best guess. Simply say that you don't know, and that you will help to find the answer. Follow through by referring to the web resources in Food & Fun that are separated by topic area. If the child is old enough to use the internet, you can recommend one of these websites so that he or she can look for the answer.
  • This curriculum is focused on positive healthy messages about nutrition and physical activity, but it is always possible that discrimination issue may arise. For more information on how to address check out the weight bias resources from the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity. They have tools designed especially for kids, parents, and educators. (link)