In light of the downward trend in longevity, the concept of healthy aging needs to be applied to everyone-even children.

Today's kids may be the first generation to have poorer health and live shorter lives than their parents. In July, the American Academy of Pediatricians sounded the alarm when it encouraged doctors to treat children at risk-as young as 8-with drugs for high cholesterol. This condition-as well as others that were formerly found exclusively in adults and seniors-is a byproduct of another startling statistic: one out of three children is overweight or obese.

September is national Healthy Aging Month, and its traditional focus has been on adults 50 years or older. But in light of the downward trend in longevity, the concept of healthy aging needs to be applied to everyone-even children.

Carole Carson-dubbed "An Apostle for Fitness" by the Wall Street Journal and the author of From Fat to Fit: Turn Yourself into a Weapon of Mass Reduction-says whether we (teachers, friends, parents, aunts and uncles or grandparents) can help children get fit and preserve their option to age healthfully. Here are three FIT tips:

F: Feed your children home-cooked meals that include vegetables and fruit. Fill your cupboard and refrigerator with healthy "fast foods" (for example, bananas, apples, hard-boiled eggs, whole wheat bread, raisins and carrots) that kids can grab and eat on the run.

I: Inquire about the calories and content of restaurant and processed foods, checking specifically for fat, trans fat and sodium. Involve yourself in parents' groups promoting healthy school lunch programs. Introduce the concepts of portion size and caloric content.

T: Teach children about nutrition. For example, the importance of drinking milk to build strong bones and eating fresh fruits and vegetables to provide needed vitamins, fiber and nutrients. Take time to participate in fun physical activities with your kids, showing them by example that exercise is important.

Raising children is a daunting yet fun-filled challenge. To ensure that our children develop into fit, productive adults, all of us must adopt a healthy lifestyle. We're never too old-or too young-to focus on fitness.


From Fat to Fit: Turn Yourself into a Weapon of Mass Reductio, by Carole Carson

For more information on getting and staying fit, for a copy of From Fat to Fit, visit www.fromfat2fit.com.