Healthy Kids    

9 ways to help kids grow into healthy adults



Establishing simple, healthy habits in children today can make a dramatic difference in their long-term health and well-being. How to start? With the dozens of practical tips in Dr. Jennifer Trachtenberg's book "Good Kids, Bad Habits."

As you'll see, the results are measurable:

1. Fill 'er up: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Kids who keep eating it throughout adulthood will feel 39 when they turn 40.

2. Props for Fido: Dogs aren't only man's best friend; they're kids' best friend, too, thanks to daily dog-walking and tugs of war. Children who keep furry friends through adulthood can bring their RealAge down by 1 year.

3. Something fishy: Kids who develop a taste for seafood early tend to keep it on the menu for life. If they do, their RealAge could be 37 when they're turning 40.

4. Stay connected: Bonding with grandparents, uncles, and other relatives builds self-esteem and lowers the risk of depression. Over the years, close family ties can take off almost four years. Imagine that, being 40, but feeling 36.

5. Brush up: Regular brushing and flossing are not only good for teeth and gums, they're linked to good heart health. So children who brush and floss throughout their life can shave as much as 6.4 years off their adult RealAge.

6. Be sweet: Disease-fighting antioxidant-rich foods such as sweet cherries, dark chocolate, pecans, and plums will help protect children's health both now and for decades to come: At 50, they could look and feel closer to 43.

7. Friendly fiber: Kids who get into a fiber habit and stay with it-eating lots of fruits, veggies, and whole grains-should feel barely 29 when they're actually 32.

8. Knowing and growing: A childhood appreciation for learning that continues into adulthood can help people feel more like 37 on their 40th birthday.

9. Be sun shy: Kids who get in the habit of sun protection now are likely to stick with it as an adult. If they do, their RealAge could be 29 when they're really 32.

Find more tips at GoodKidsBadHabits.com or RealAge.com/parenting, where you can also take the Healthy Kids Test and Parenting Style Quiz.

Jennifer Trachtenberg, MD, FAAP, is equally proud of her roles as chief pediatric officer for RealAge.com and mom of three active young children. The nationally renowned parenting expert and board-certified pediatrician has practiced pediatric and adolescent medicine for more than 12 years and maintains a successful private practice in New York City. She is also a clinical instructor in pediatrics at The Mount Sinai Medical Center and a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics.