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How Not to Raise Fat Kids

By Dr. Saira Gillani, ND Email By Dr. Saira Gillani, ND
August 2012
How Not to Raise Fat Kids

My child went for her yearly physical yesterday and the doctor said she was overweight. What do I do? 

Obesity is defined by many practitioners as 20 percent above normal weight. If your child should weigh around 100 pounds to be in the healthy range and he or she weighs 120 pounds, this is considered to be obese. 

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, in 2007, the percentage of overweight and obese children (ages 10-17) in Georgia alone was 37.3 percent. At the national level, about 15.4 percent of children are obese. That means Georgia’s childhood rate of obesity is 20 percent over the national average. 

Considering Americans are eating more processed foods than fresh food and are sitting before the computer or playing video games instead of being active outdoors, this may not come as such a shock. 

Here are some useful tips to prevent childhood obesity:
• Avoid bringing junk food home.
• Limit your child’s television time and avoid putting a television in your child’s bedroom. Children with TVs in their bedrooms have been shown to drink more sugar-sweetened beverages and eat more fast food and less fruits and vegetables than children without TVs in their bedrooms. The American Acad-emy of Pediatrics recommends restricting television time to two hours or less per day.
• Motivate your child to get 60 or more minutes of physical activity per day. This should include a mixture of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, and vigorous-intensity activity, such as running.
• Add healthier snacks into your child’s diet. Snacks should be small, the size of the palm of your hand. Thirty years ago, kids ate just one snack a day, while they now tend toward three large snacks, resulting in an additional 200 calories a day.
• Have a stock of cereals that are rich in fibers and whole wheat.
• Offer your child easy-to-eat vegetables including celery, carrots and cucumbers.
• Be creative with vegetables. For instance, mash the cauliflower like potatoes and add low fat cheese to broccoli.
• Avoid red meats and make meals with lean meats such as fish and chicken.
• Add spices such as cayenne pepper to your diet, to increase metabolism.
• Look for organic foods. These are easier for the body to digest since they are all natural and have been raised or grown healthier.
• Avoid these five ingredients: hydrogenated oil, enriched flour, sugar, trans fats, and saturated fats.
• Finally, be a good role model for your child by eating a clean, healthy diet and living a physically active life.

Dr. Saira Gillani is a Naturopathic doctor whose specialties include natural approaches to diabetes, weight management, arthritis, and stress management. 

Gulshan Harjee, M.D., is a board certified internist in private practice with an emphasis on prevention. Please email your health and medical questions for consideration in this column to: gharjee@comcast.net. The material in this column is of a general nature, and must not be construed as specific medical advice. This column rotates monthly along with the Fitness Lifestyle column by Aarti Patel.

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