I was recently surprised and a little bit dismayed when I read that kids at a certain school were going hungry because they were either skipping out on lunch or simply throwing the food provided for them into the garbage. The reason? The food was deemed inedible because it was too healthy.

Their concerned parents voiced their objections by targeting the school for offering unappealing fare like fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and even went so far as to blame First Lady Michelle Obama, who has made it her mission to fight childhood obesity.

While I think it's a shame that growing children are going hungry, childhood obesity is a real problem that is worthy of our attention. According to the CDC, 12.5 million American children (17%) between the ages of 2 and 19 are obese. There was even the unbelievable story about a child who had gastric bypass surgery at the age of 2.

Schools are simply complying with the Healthy and Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010. However, as any parent knows, it is hard to get their kids to eat healthy meals if they have snacks and junk food waiting for them at home. Rather than blame their school, maybe it wouldn't be such a bad idea if the kids had better eating habits at home. Getting children to embrace a healthier diet is a challenge, but it is not impossible. It simply requires a little effort and some common sense.

Here are 10 helpful tips on how to get it done.

1. Set precedents that will last.

Encourage healthy eating habits by offering sensible and healthy foods at home. Establish the ground rules that this is how your family is going to eat and that your kids don't have a choice.

2. Stand your ground.

Every kid likes junk food, and will opt out of healthy foods when given the choice, so don't make it a choice. Be strong in the face of your children's resistance — it will wane over time.

3. Start early.

Once you give your kids cookies for breakfast and potato chips for lunch, they will expect it. Offering fresh fruits and vegetables early on is what they'll accept as the norm.

4. Don't try to be popular — be a parent.

One of the hardest things in parenting is when you make unpopular choices that incur the wrath of your kids. Just remember, you're older and know more than they do.

5. Drink water.

Sweetened drinks add an incredible number of calories to a meal. Plus, liquid calories are much easier to mindlessly consume, and they taste good, so avoid them when possible. Water is much cheaper as well.

6. Embrace moderation.

Even with healthy food you can have too much of a good thing, which can be counterproductive. Some sweets and treats are OK, as long as healthy foods are the focus of your child's diet.

7. Make it taste good.

Healthy foods don't have to taste awful. Check out vegetarian cookbooks for ideas on spicing up vegetables and grains, and lean meats can be made to taste great.

8. Set a good example.

What child wants to eat broccoli when mom and dad are having hot dogs? Not only will parents benefit from a healthier diet, but it will send a positive message about a good diet.

9. Be active.

Walk when you can, and make the kids get off the couch and out the door. Every health expert knows of the importance of exercise, and kids will have fun once they get outside.

10. Turn off the TV.

Let's be realistic, TV is all about being sedentary and watching advertisements, and what is one of the most common themes? Junk food ads aimed at kids. With the TV off, not only are you avoiding these enticing ads, but it increases the chances of being active.

In the end, eating healthy is not as complicated as you think. In fact, I would bet most people know what's required. It's the next step of actually doing it where things get complicated, but what's a little complication when it involves the health of your children?

To learn more about your child's diet, talk to you pediatrician visit the website for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).