Our Children health snack apple

Published on October 18th, 2012 | by Dr. Cristina Garcia


Healthy Children become Healthy Adults

Over the past decade, statistics support a significant rise in childhood obesity. The overall rates of overweight and obese boys and girls were found to be higher in every age group.

As a result, we are now seeing diseases and illnesses in late childhood and early teenage children that were once considered to be found only in the adult population.

Diseases like Type-2 Diabetes, once known as Adult-Onset Diabetes, are now being diagnosed in children in their early teens. We are also seeing a rise in cholesterol and blood pressure in children, which is a direct correlation with early heart disease and other vascular abnormalities.

Overweight children and adolescents have a higher risk of becoming overweight or obese adults.   One of the many consequences experienced by overweight children and adolescents is low self-esteem, which can lead to social isolation and depression. This can lead to overeating and avoiding physical activity which further exacerbates the problem.

The propensity for obese and overweight children and adolescents in our society stems from a lack of physical activity and poor eating habits. This can be attributed to long hours in front of the television, video games and sedentary lifestyles. The poor eating habits are direct results of fast-paced lifestyles, in which more parents are working and there are fewer family meals.

How to brake and on going and destructive trend?

eat healthy family dinner

Aspire to become a good role model for your children. The first thing you must do is let your child know that he or she is loved no matter what his or her weight is.

Focus on a lifestyle change for the entire family. Don’t single out one child and let the others continue their unhealthy eating habits and sedentary lifestyles. Include all your children in this lifestyle change and make a commitment to be supportive and helpful during this transition. Never call this a DIET; call it a new LIFESTYLE.   Helpful eating suggestions should include mealtime as a family as often as possible. Do not watch TV during mealtime. Make sure to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, and limit your choices to healthy snacks.

Regarding portion control, involve your child in becoming familiar with portions and use smaller plates or several smaller portions.

Replace fried foods with baked, steamed or poached versions. Replace soda and other high sugar drinks with water.  Always have healthy snacks available such as raw fruits and vegetables, graham crackers, raisins or frozen yogurt. Get your child involved in reading labels and help them become familiar with terms like calories, serving size, fat content, fiber, vitamins and iron content.

When dining out, choose restaurants wisely. Avoid all-you-can-eat buffets and desert carts, pass on the bread and butter, use oil and vinegar instead of thick salad dressings and only drink water with your meal. Consider ordering what you want to eat – not the daily double special that may cost less but cause you to overeat.

Remember, sometimes your child may slip and over-eat or make a wrong choice. Remind your child that healthy eating is a life-long choice. If he or she overdoes it one day, help your child make a better choice the next day.

Be active and involved with your child. Take a 20-minute walk with your family at least three times a week. This not only elevates your activity level, but it encourages one-on-one communication, important in every age group. Encourage your child to ride a bike of at least 20-minutes on the days you don’t walk.

Remove the TV from your child’s bedroom and limit overall TV watching to fewer than two hours a day. When planning your weekend, include family activities like swimming, hiking, dance classes, golf classes or a family bike ride to a picnic area and back.   Your child’s nutrition is your responsibility. You are the role model, so make this healthy lifestyle change a family commitment. This will improve your child’s health.

family beach time

About the Author

Dr. Cristina Garcia

has been a practicing physician in the field of pediatrics for 15 years. She attended the University of Miami, School of Nursing and continued her education at the Universidad Central del Este School of Medicine in San Pedro de Marcoris, Dominican Republic, where she received her Medical Degree. She completed her Pediatric Residency training at the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and Women in Orlando. In addition, she was chosen as the Pediatric Chief Resident for an additional year. For 4 years, Dr. Garcia worked as the Medical Director in the Pediatric Emergency Department at the Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach. She also worked in various pediatric emergency departments as well as pediatric offices throughout central Florida.

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