Plump babies may be cute, but childhood obesity is a serious condition that may last into adulthood. It's estimated that around 15% of children ages 6 to 19 are obese, far more than just 2 decades ago.

Your child's pediatrician can determine whether your child is at risk for obesity by calculating their body mass index (BMI). BMI is based on height and weight measurements. Childhood obesity is typically the result of several factors, including insufficient physical activity, poor eating habits, easy availability of high-calorie foods, and genetics. If your child is determined to be overweight, these tips can help.

Exercise as a family: Get exercise and have fun at the same time by walking, biking, swimming, or skating together. For reluctant exercisers, try geo-caching or letterboxing (hiking and searching for clues that lead to a hidden treasure box).

Eat together: Having a dependable time to share a healthy meal will make your child less likely to fill up on low-nutrient foods while watching TV.

Involve children in meal planning: Sit down together to look through magazines and cookbooks and choose well-balanced meals. You may be surprised at the healthy foods your child will eat if they help to choose them.

Make food an adventure: Take younger children shopping and encourage them to choose a new fruit or vegetable to try each week. Brainstorm healthy desserts such as baked apples with cinnamon or colourful fruit salads.

Have healthy snacks available: Vegetable sticks, grapes, and yogurt cups make convenient and healthy grab-and-go items.

Marlene Veloso