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Healthy Family Book Reviews

With a plethora of health resources available these days, it can be hard to know where to look for reliable, accurate and useful information. When it comes to raising healthy kids in an increasingly unhealthy world, where do you start? Coach Nicole recommends these top five reads for a healthy family household.

1. Fit Kids by Mary L. Gavin, M.D., Steven A. Dowshen, M.D., and Neil Izenberg, M.D. ©2004

From the medical experts of KidsHealth.org, this book is a parent's guide to raising healthy children from birth through adolescence. Packed with easy-to-understand information, you'll learn about nutrition, instilling healthy eating habits, ideas to keep your child (and entire family) active, and age-specific information and tips. Visually, this book is fun to look at, plus the information is medically-accepted and helpful to all parents—whether you know a little or a lot about child nutrition and fitness. (SRP: $20)

2. Your Child's Weight: Helping Without Harming by Ellyn Satter, MS, RD, LCSW, BCD ©2005

In a society where overweight and obese children are becoming the norm, Ellyn Satter, a Registered Dietitian and family therapist, suggests an unconventional approach to parents: stop trying to control how much your children eat. Based on scientific research and clinical experience, Satter teaches parents to provide plenty of healthy foods, while trusting their children to eat enough food to feel satisfied. This book provides compelling arguments and sound advice in an easy-to-read and practical guide for parenting (and feeding) children from birth to adolescence. (SRP: $19.95)

3. The Family Fitness Fun Book by Rose R. Kennedy ©2005

Who needs TV and video games to keep their kids busy and occupied? This book is full of ideas for children of all ages—relays, backyard sports, children's party games, garage volleyball, and more. The author organizes the contents by activity types (indoor, outdoor, city, snow, water, and more), and within each section, the games ascend from easy to difficult. Each activity is laid out clearly with directions, appropriate ages, amount of time required, intensity level, and even whether or not parental supervision is necessary. Reading this book will likely remind you of your own childhood game play, but as a whole, it's a valuable tool for any parent who wants to raise healthy, active, and even imaginative children. (SRP: $16.95)

4. Dr. Sears' LEAN Kids by Williams Sears, MD, Peter Sears, MD, and Sean Foy, MA ©2003

Dr. Sears, a pediatrician, father of eight, and author of 24 child care books, teamed up with his son Peter (also a doctor) and fitness expert Sean Foy to create one of the most comprehensive fitness and nutrition guides for parents. Sears offers practical advice for raising healthy, active children in today's world. Based on his own research and experience as a doctor and father, he explains how to create a healthy lifestyle for the whole family. Enriched with useful tips (like how to get your kids to eat well) and advice for connecting with your kids, Lean Kids truly is a "Total Health Program" for children 6-12 years old. (SRP: $14.95)

5. Food Fight by Kelly D. Brownell, PhD ©2004

A whopping 65 percent of American adults are overweight, and our children are following in our footsteps. In Food Fight, Kelly D. Brownell, Ph.D., a renowned expert on obesity, nutrition, and eating disorders, explains the roots of these problems and what can be done. From human biology to school lunches, “super size” portions to television—Brownell teaches you to be an educated consumer and a catalyst of change. (SRP: $24.95)
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Member Comments

Good article. Report
Wonderful suggestions!
Thank You Nicole. Report
I think it was easier many years ago when mothers did not work outside the home in the sense children were watched a litlle closer than they are now. Children also did not have computers, video games, etc. and they were more physically active than they are now. Fast food has not helped any either and it is all over the place. Report
Would have loved to have these resources when I was a kid. Mom did the best she could to help me, but I was very large when I was very small (and of course some of it was emotional shielding that happens for protection from things she didn't know about).

Anyway, the more resources, the better. Report
Sad to say, but yeah, we clearly need books to tell us how to feed and exercise our children. With two working parents and kids over-scheduled with activities (not necessarily sports), families are relying more on fast food or prepackaged convenience "foods", and spending less time on active pursuits on the weekend due to running themselves ragged during the week.

I think this article is a good jumping-off point for parents to get informed about making healthier choices for their children. Report
Do we honestly need books that tell us how to feed our children right and that they need to exercise. There must be a huge generation gap in how children are growing up these days. I'm 56 and my daughter is 19. My siblings and I played outdoors the whole time growing up and so did my daughter. It just seems like common sense. Report
I am NOT a fan of Dr. Sears. I think his books concerning immunizations can cause much harm to new parents. His opinions are not backed up by true medical investigations. Report
My kids and I love our trampoline. I hope it'll last another year or two.

They seem to go on sale every spring at KMart. Report
Great article. I recommend a trampoline for children to exercise on. My five children wore out two of them. Report
Walking Guide

About The Author

Nicole Nichols
Nicole Nichols
A certified personal trainer and fitness instructor with a bachelor's degree in health education, Nicole loves living a healthy and fit lifestyle and helping others do the same. Nicole was formerly SparkPeople's fitness expert and editor-in-chief, known on the site as "Coach Nicole." Make sure to explore more of her articles and blog posts.