tips on preventing childhood obesity

Chaimmomas wanted to welcome a special guest blogger today Poonam Patel.  Poonam has been a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner for over 10 years.  She always had a passion for children, which made it easy for her to decide on a career.  Her experience as nurse was in General Pediatrics, Cystic Fibrosis, and Diabetes.  Children with chronic illness are so special and gave her a perspective that no one could ever teach. 
Obesity is a very intricate problem that is affected by many variables, which makes each family different, and offers even more of a challenge to help. Her main focus is to educate families and children, to prevent life long diseases.  We can all avoid this problem, by starting early, educating ourselves and practicing as a community.  Children are our future, and we should guide them to success!”  
Here are some simple facts:
  • In the last 30 years childhood obesity has doubled in this country, and quadrupled in adolescents.
  • This is not just a domestic issue, it is a epidemic throughout the world.
  • In 2012, more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese.1

There are many factors that have led this increase in obesity rates: the use of processed foods has increased: which is higher in calories, fats, and salts. Sugar has been replaced with Corn syrup, and individual’s intake more of these beverages. Portions are much larger than 20 years ago.  Family dynamics have shifted, in many homes both parents are working and time is essential.  We go for quicker options.  There is a myth that healthy foods are more expensive than unhealthy foods. Access to healthier options is a problem for many communities throughout the United States. Lack of education is a huge factor in this country as well as internationally.

Childhood obesity can increases risk factors for: Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, fatty liver disease, sleep apnea, depression and low self esteem.

I think we can spend more time helping families understand how to prevent this all together. 

Her are some tips to follow to prevent childhood obesity:

  2. Provide structure around how many bottles are given per day, not just when the baby fusses.
  3. Definitely start vegetables before fruits, so that your children acquire those flavors.
  4. Be mindful of how much whole milk your children get after 1 year of age.  Try to limit less than 16 ounces.
  5. Emphasize the structure regarding meal times, snack time and milk.
  6. Switch to 1% milk after 2-3 years of age.
  7. Try to stay away from junk food and sweet drinks (including juice) early in childhood
  8. Very important that as soon as your child comprehends numbers and learning to read, you as a parent can start looking at food labels together, and follow serving size.  That way you have instilled the idea of portions to your children.
  9. No meals or snack in front of TV
  10. Attempt to eat as a family, studies show that children who do this are not as likely to become obese, and self esteem is also better in these children.
  11. No food in your child’s room
  12. Cook together if your children are old enough, and have them involved with grocery shopping
  13. From a younger age, only offer the meals you have cooked. If you start letting your child refuse the meal you prepared, they most likely will eat a higher calorie, unhealthy alternative.
  14. Always allow your children the time to play outside or be physically active, whether it is to play tag, run around outside, play a sport, something to stay active.
  15. Limit TV, computer, phones, Ipads, tablets, any screen time to 1-2 hours per day.

These are very general interventions families can start early so that children are aware of the structure at home. In my experience as a practitioner in the Obesity Program, more conflicts arise among family members if you start late. Make healthy choices fun, and allow your children to make their choices with the options your provide.

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