Thank you for reading Part One of our series about Childhood Obesity, focusing on sugar. Childhood Obesity has become an epidemic in America and throughout the world, and we’re excited about including physicians in on the conversation in our upcoming GlobalCastMD Live Event.

1With statistics like these, how to do we get involved and make sure our patients, children and students are moving in a healthier direction?

It starts at home:

Often times, Americans are misguided by the food industry. Items such as juices, milks, cereals, breakfast bars and snacks are misinterpreted to parents as healthy options when they are in fact filled with artificial sweeteners, calories and chemicals.

According to the CDC:

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free and low-fat dairy products for persons aged 2 years and older. The guidelines also recommend that children, adolescents, and adults limit intake of solid fats (major sources of saturated and trans fatty acids), cholesterol, sodium, added sugars, and refined grains. Unfortunately, most young people are not following the recommendations set forth in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

While it’s sometimes desirable for busy parents to choose packaged items rather than whole food options, buying food that is natural and organic is the absolute best way to know exactly what is going into your children’s bodies from birth.

It’s learned in schools:

If you haven’t seen it, watch Jamie Oliver’s Ted Talk, “Teach Every Child about Food.” In it, you’ll see school children having difficulty identifying vegetables like cauliflower and potatoes in addition to experiencing a lack of healthy food and beverage options in schools.

According to the CDC:

Schools are in a unique position to promote healthy eating and help ensure appropriate food and nutrient intake among students. Schools provide students with opportunities to consume an array of foods and beverages throughout the school day and enable students to learn about and practice healthy eating behaviors. For example, as a healthy alternative to sugar-sweetened beverages, schools can provide students access to safe, free drinking water.

It’s reinforced by physicians.

Early childhood pediatricians have a unique opportunity to warn their patients very early on about our the effects of healthy eating habits in babies and children. As many parents know, it’s hard to get a child thinking about drinking water when they’re used to juice, but if you begin instilling these habits into our children earlier in life, there’s a better chance for them to become life-long healthy eaters.

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Organizations like Lets Move offer lots of tips and tools about how to start the conversation about Obesity with your patients.

Often times, doctors are approached about obese and overweight children once unhealthy habits have already been enforced and are at the point that is too difficult to adjust. Get children excited about fruits and vegetables by encouraging parents to plant gardens, take children to farmers markets and to teach children how to cook healthy food; when they are actively involved in the process, they will appreciate and enjoy it much more.

To join the conversation about how physicians can get involved with Kid’s Health, join us on May 9th: