Is That Baby Fat?

Author: Shannon Miller

A  local pediatrician shares her insights to help our children avoid childhood obesity.

As a practicing pediatrician, this is a question that I am asked almost every day.

As a parent, I think one of the biggest challenges that we face today is not only feeding our children balanced diets, but teaching them to make healthy food choices as they get older.

I know we are all aware of the increasing epidemic of childhood obesity in this country, and the latest statistics are alarming:

  • 15% of children 6-19 years old are at-risk for overweight
  • approximately 15% are already overweight using BMI (Body Mass Index) percentile criteria that are now internationally accepted.

What can I do as a parent to help my child if I start to see my child gaining weight?

The first step is to be a positive role model making healthier food choices with your child and establishing your house as a “safe place” for eating.  In other words,

  • Make it as easyas you can for your child.
    • Fill your pantry and refrigerator with healthy snacks like cut-up fruits and vegetables, yogurt, popcorn and portioned snacks like 100-calorie packs.
    • Don’t bring the soda or sweetened drinks into your home and encourage your children to drink multiple glasses of water every day and buy skim or 1% milk.
    • Try to sit down for family meals as many times as possible during the week.

As the holiday season approaches, we all need to plan ahead for healthier food choices at our festive meals.

  • Volunteer to bring the vegetable tray or add a fruit platter to your table and try to look online to find healthier recipes for old favorites.
  • Add a few low fat options to your dessert table like a sugar-free pudding pie or sugar-free Jell-O.
  • If dietary changes are overdue at your house, make an early New Year’s resolution to skip baking Christmas cookies this year-be creative and make a holiday craft with your children instead.

Healthy eating habits start at home.

We all want our children to eat healthy and stay healthy.  It is our job as parents to provide food from all the food groups and to teach our children about nutrition as they grow. As the New Year approaches, this is a wonderful time to revamp your grocery list for your family and get your children in to the kitchen to help you cook!

Article courtesy of Dr. Wendy Sapolsky, pediatrician at Carithers Pediatrics in Jacksonville, Florida.

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