The concern over obesity in children has garnered national attention. HBO broadcast the four-part documentary “The Weight of the Nation” last year, shining a spotlight on the health of America’s children. Here are a couple of facts about obesity in children.
• The percentage of children 6 to 11 years old who were overweight increased from 7 percent in 1980 to 20 percent in 2008.
• Half of obese teenage girls will be extremely obese by their early 30s.
There are a number of things parents can do to help turn things around. One is changing the way your children and family eat. A simple practice is to eat meals together as a family whenever possible without any distractions. When you have those family meals think about serving some of the following:
• Protein rich foods like lean meats, fish, eggs, beans and nuts.
• Fiber-rich whole-grain breads and cereals.
• Lowfat or nonfat dairy products.
Also, try grilling or broiling instead of deep frying and avoid junk food binges by keeping it out of the house.
Parents should avoid forcing their children to finish all the food on their plate if they’re full. You should only eat when you’re hungry. Food should not be used as a reward or punishment with your children. You don’t have to eliminate sweets altogether, but focus on healthy nutrition and remember everything is fine in moderation.
Finally, you can help encourage children to eat better and be more active when Mom and Dad eat better and are active themselves. You can set a great example for your kids by taking family walks, riding bicycles together, playing games and going to the park. Remember, eating healthier can be a fun and rewarding activity by introducing your children to new foods that will make them healthier adults. Why not make a new start with a family dinner tonight?
About the writer: Dr. Joseph Magley is a family medicine and obstetrics physician with Franciscan Medical Clinic in Enumclaw. Need a doctor? Call the Franciscan Physician Referral Line toll-free: 1-888-825-3227.