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The Informed Parent

How Can I Gain Control Of My Child’s Eating Habits, Part 2

by Shanna R. Cox, M.D., F.A.A.P.
Published on Jul. 29, 2013

Last week we brought to your attention the awareness of your child’s poor eating habits. We plotted for you a list of healthy foods that will help bring control over those eating habits. If, by now, you have concluded that your child/family falls into this category you need to press on to the secondary step to gaining control.

Children need activity to grow and develop. Physical education curriculums are designed to promote the attainment of skills that are appropriate for your child’s age. It is important that your child participate in physical education completely. Children involved in athletics gain coordination and self-esteem, and are less likely to become involved with inappropriate social groups. Group or team sports are a way that your child can meet new people and learn to interact with others as well as stay physically fit.

Your community offers many opportunities for your child to engage in physical activities, with everything from hiking and swimming to soccer or football. Make yourself aware of the benefits of your local community center, Boy’s and Girl’s Clubs, YMCA, and after school programs. Many offer free programs and some are available at your child’s own school.

Children who are not active, but prefer to sit, watching TV or playing video games are at risk of developing a sedentary lifestyle that can lead to problems later in life. Limit the amount of time your child may spend watching television to 1-to-1 ½ hours per day. Your child will benefit from family events that are associated with physical activity. Make it a goal to spend 30 minutes a day doing something physically active with your child, from walking to bike riding or throwing a ball back and forth.

Today many children are becoming too heavy in their weight. There are multiple health risks to children who are obese:

  • high blood pressure
  • development of diabetes
  • joint problems
  • early heart disease
  • early death
  • development of gallstones
  • poor self-image
  • poor self-esteem

 Right now, in our community, almost a third of children are obese. There are many reasons children may become too heavy:

  • too little activity, at home, at school, during free time
  • too much food
  • unhealthy foods/beverages, such as sodas, chips or fatty foods9metabolic diseases

For most children who become obese the most realistic goal to improve health is to maintain their current weight instead of trying to lose weight while they continue to grow. Children under two years should not be restricted in fats or proteins that are important for the development of their brain. Children who are greater than  75th percentile for weight or height on their growth chart are considered overweight and are at risk to become obese. More commonly, children who are greater than the 97th percentile for weight may be obese, or too heavy.

Oftentimes weight control is a problem for an entire family. Children should not be expected to change their eating habits and activity levels as an isolated member of their household: it is a FAMILY AFFAIR? A child‘s weight goal is not a number of pounds, but a place where they can be most healthy.

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