Overweight

  • The old adage “You are what you eat” is true.  A British study found that junk food causes bad behavior and leads to lower grades in school children age 6 to 16.  A healthy diet with lots of vegetables, fish oil, whole grains, nuts and water was linked to good academic performance.  
“This is an epic proportion.  A 10-year old child who remains obese may shorten his or her life by 10 to 15 years,” says Dr. William Munios, board certified in pediatrics and pediatric gastroenterology at Miami Children’s Hospital. 
  • Research reveals that salt (which stimulates the brain to want more fluid) in prepared and fast foods, along with calorie-filled sugar-sweetened sodas, contributes to obesity.  Healthy eating and exercise are essential to maintain good health.  

  • Kids and Weight.  The road to obesity starts before the age of 5, according to research.  Overweight kindergartners are 4 times more likely to become obese by the 8th grade. 

    Risk factors for childhood obesity:
    • Large birth weight (8.8+ lbs.)
    • Formula fed babies
    • Poor diet
    • Lack of exercise (less than 1 hour per day)

    Tackling childhood obesity:
    • Don’t start solid foods too early.  The American Pediatrics recommends waiting till 6 months (if breastfed), or 4 months (if not breastfed).
    • Intervene early, preschool age
    • Work with your pediatrician
    • Discuss with your child
    • Be a role model:  eat healthy and exercise
    • Give them healthy, non-processed foods
    • Low-fat  milk after age 2
    • Limit TV screen time.  Keep children moving
             (Dr. Dyan Hes, Gramercy Pediatrics Medical Director, reporting research in the New England Journal of Medicine,
             CBS This Morning, January 30, 2014)

  • The road to obesity starts before the age of 5, according to research.  Overweight kindergartners are 4 times more likely to become obese by the 8th grade. 

    Risk factors for childhood obesity:
    Large birth weight (8.8+ lbs.)
    Formula fed babies
    Poor diet
    Lack of exercise (less than 1 hour per day)

    Tackling childhood obesity:
    Don’t start solid foods too early.  The American Pediatrics recommends waiting till 6 months (if breastfed), or 4 months (if not breastfed).
    Intervene early, preschool age
    Work with your pediatrician
    Discuss with your child
    Be a role model:  eat healthy and exercise
    Give them healthy, non-processed foods
    Low-fat  milk after age 2
    Limit TV screen time.  Keep children moving
             (Dr. Dyan Hes, Gramercy Pediatrics Medical Director, reporting research in the New England Journal of Medicine, CBS This Morning, January 30, 2014)

Statistics
  • 30% of all children in the U.S. are dangerously overweight or obese, and that statistic continues to rise.   (The New England Journal of Medicine, June 2007)  
  • In Spokane, about 22% of teens are overweight.  ("Spokane's health district plans to fight obesity with 'walkable' city’," The Spokesman-Review, February 4, 2008)

  • Children born in the first decade of 2000 are facing diabetes at the rate of 50% (if Latino) and over 33% of white and African-American.  Children born in this decade will also have a shorter life expectancy than their parents.  
  • 16% of children ages 6 and older are overweight—this is 4 times the rate of just 20 years ago.  Much of this is due to eating habits and a lack of exercise.
  • 30 years ago, only 4% of children in the U.S. were overweight.  Today, that number has climbed to 30% who are overweight or obese, and that statistic continues to rise.   (The New England Journal of Medicine, June 2007)   “This is an epic proportion.  A 10-year old child who remains obese may shorten his or her life by 10 to 15 years,” said Dr. William Munios, board certified in pediatrics and pediatric gastroenterology at Miami Children’s Hospital.  
  • 50% of parents who have overweight or obese children do not realize their children weigh too much, according to studies.  In addition, many parents are in denial because they don’t want to have to change their own eating and exercise habits.  
  • Some schools measure the Body Mass Index (BMI) of each student, and send that information to the parent with an interpretation of that test.  A child with a BMI of 25 or over may have the tendency to become obese or overweight.  A child diagnosed with Type II diabetes as a pre-teen could have vision problems in his 20’s, a heart attack by the time he is 30, be on full kidney dialysis by the time he is 40, and may not see his 50th birthday.

What You Can Do
  • Make good health a family effort.  Parents can do much to prevent kids from gaining weight and becoming obese.  
  • Parents must educate both themselves and their children in order for them to live longer and healthier.
  • Instead of telling children to “eat  healthy,” do your own research and then share it with your children, explaining that eating particular foods will make them stronger and smarter (brain food); help their eyes see better and strengthen their bones; improve their  skin and reduce stomachaches.   

Healthy Breakfast before School
  • Old-fashioned oatmeal with cinnamon, raisins, honey
  • Fruit smoothie with yogurt and nuts or protein powder
  • Whole grain toast with peanut or almond butter and honey
  • Granola or granola bars (make your own—it’s cheaper and healthier)
  • Pancakes, waffles or French toast
  • Muffin and fruit  
  • Egg and toast (hard boil eggs the night before)  

Healthy School Lunches and After-School Snacks
  • Teach your children to help prepare their own healthy school lunches.
  • Discuss, as a family, how to eat healthy and the importance of sufficient sleep.
  • Teach the importance of washing hands correctly and often.
  • Ask school districts to provide a list of healthy lunch ideas for all student families.  
  • Teach children to “Eat the Rainbow!”  More food colors, equals more nutrition.  
  • Make lunches the evening before to avoid the morning rush.
  • Add fruit (applesauce, cherries, grapes, melon chunks, pineapple wedges, apples, pears, apricots, plums, peaches, raisins, fruit leather).
  • Add veggies instead of chips (cherry tomatoes, carrots, celery sticks stuffed with peanut butter, broccoli, and cucumber circles).  
  • Add cheese, cottage cheese and yogurt.  
  • Use a variety of breads from whole wheat, English muffins, bagels, rolls, or pocket bread.
  • Cut sandwich bread into fun shapes.
  • Put sandwich filling on whole grain roll-ups.  Add meat, mayo, mustard, veggies; roll up and cut in bite-size pieces.
  • Use sliced fruit (banana, raisins) and a little honey on peanut butter sandwiches, instead of jelly.
  • To avoid issues with peanut allergies in the classroom, use other butters, like almond or soy.
  • Make a trail mix with nuts, dried fruit, pretzels, raisins, popcorn, and sunflower seeds.
  • Transform dinner leftovers into fun lunches.
  • Most kids will eat any vegetable they can “dip” into something like into a Ranch dressing.  Make healthy Ranch dip with yogurt as the base instead of mayo or sour cream.
  • Skip sugary drinks, and drink juice or water.
  • Make a list of healthy lunches and snacks.  Post it on your refrigerator.
  • Don’t forget to include notes from family members, cartoons, short articles, miniature toys, Birthday cards, stickers, even a fortune cookie—in their lunch sack.  Make your child smile and let him know you are thinking of him.

Choices of the Parents
  • Grocery shopping.  Exchange the chips, soda, sugar-laden foods in your grocery cart for fresh fruits and vegetables. 
  • Limit sugar, artificial colors, preservatives, and chemicals.  These additives in most soft drinks and convenience foods have been linked to behavioral problems in children such as hyperactivity, depression, and diseases.  The Center for Science in the Public Interest has petitioned the FDA for a ban on many common artificial food dyes, as well as warning labels.  The chemical dyes (such as Red 40, Yellow 5, 6 and Blue 1, 2) are petroleum and coal-based, used to make much of our food look more colorful and vibrant.
  • Many parents are choosing to help their children by avoiding products containing artificial dyes and other chemicals.    
  • Limit TV and computer time to less than 2 hours a day.


Encourage physical activity every day.
  • Self-Test Body Mass Calculator.  Parents can go to the calculator on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web site to determine whether their children are too heavy.  Visit the body mass calculator at www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/bmi. 
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