By DANA RODRIGUEZ, PHD, APNP-BC

You may have heard about childhood obesity on the news or seen it in the newspapers. You may question, “Why is it such a concern and what can I do to prevent my child from becoming obese?” First I will address why it is a concern. Healthcare workers are concerned about childhood obesity because obesity can lead to health problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, asthma, sleep apnea, joint pain among other conditions.

Children who are obese are also at risk for social discrimination which often leads to low self-esteem. As parents we want what is best for our kids both physically and mentally. The real question is then “What can I do as a parent to prevent my child from becoming obese?”

Here I will provide you with a few tips to help your children to develop a healthy lifestyle:

• Limit juice and Gatorade intake to 4 ounces or less daily. (Choose water instead!). No soda.
• Limit screen time to 2 hours daily. (Less on school days)
• Limit portion sizes. Parents should become familiar with what is a normal portion size and stick to that amount.
• Avoid fried foods. (Example: choose to make regular tacos rather than fried tacos)
• Children should be active for at least 60 minutes daily. Be active with your children if possible.
• Do not bring junk food into the house. If it’s not in the house the kids won’t eat it.
• Know that it is okay to say NO when kids ask for a treat.

HELPFUL HINTS
• Kids are more likely to eats fruits and vegetables that are pre-cut. Take the time to buy watermelon, red peppers, cucumbers or whatever your family likes and cut it and store it in a container in the refrigerator. Buy the baby carrots and small tomatoes that make great bitesized snacks. When they ask for a snack, there is your answer!
• If you know your child has already had a sugary treat today like birthday cake then the rest of the food for the
days should be healthy choices. Say NO to their extra requests like potato chips, candy or soda.

The key is to balance what we put in our bodies and what we burn off each day.

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