What do today’s parents need to know about food options and portion sizes?

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Childhood Obesity has become an epidemic in America and throughout the world. We’re thrilled to bring doctors in on the conversation at our upcoming GlobalCastMD Live Event Join us! At the event, we will focus on this epidemic from a clinical perspective.

Join us for our upcoming Live Event!
Join us for our upcoming Live Event!

Today on the blog, we asked members of our event faculty to weigh-in with tips and advice dealing with this troubling and sensitive issue.

We asked Dr. Christopher Bolling:

Name some of the most useful health tools that can help a parent, teacher or doctor teach younger children about maintaining a healthy lifestyle (such as pedometer, nutrition labels)?

I always love the simplicity of 5210 materials (below).  They are really easy for anyone to remember. Pedometers, particularly Fitbits seem to be very prevalent right now and they send the right message that activity does not need to be world-class athletic activity.  Some app’s like My Fitness Pal and Lose It! are very helpful as well.  If they are going to use video games, I stress the ones that will increase heart rate, cause them to breathe hard and cause them to sweat (Just Dance, Wii Boxing, etc…)

 

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5210 materials

 

We asked Dr. Sheethal Reddy:

Regarding caloric intake- what best way to monitor children or teach them how to track their own calories?  Do you feel it is beneficial to calorie count or does it become obsessive?   

For most children there is little need to count calories.  I would argue that even among adults, tracking calories alone without thought to the nutritional content of your food is short-sighted.  Calorie counting is time consuming and takes a significant effort.  Furthermore it provides little help when one is eating “off the beaten path”, say, at thanksgiving dinner, or when eating at a local restaurant that doesn’t post calories on their menu.  A more reliable approach to reducing caloric intake is to focus on the composition of one’s food. 

If counting calories is either too time consuming or not working? What else can parents do?

The USDA recommends that meals consist of ½ a plate of fruits and vegetables, and ¼ a plate of carbohydrates/starches and proteins. This is an easy formula to follow and one that naturally reduces caloric intake since fruits and vegetables are low calorie.  Furthermore, calories consumed via fruits and vegetables are accompanied by fiber which contributes to greater satiation.  Another way to approach calorie reduction is to teach individuals to recognize feelings of hunger and satiety so that they can stop eating before getting overly full

Weigh-in: How do you discuss the issue of portion sizes with parents and patients?

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About the Docs:
b8e5541dfad62f7  Christopher F. Bolling, MD, FAAP
  University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati OH
  Volunteer Associate Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of General and Community Pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC) and the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Private Practice, Pediatric Associates, Kentucky.
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  Sheethal Reddy, Ph.D.
  Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Atlanta, GA
  Psychologist, Assistant Professor of Surgery and Pediatrics, Emory University School of Medicine; Strong4Life, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta


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