Commentary by Danielle Wiese, MD
Nearly one third of all children are overweight or obese. The good news is this number has been decreasing in recent years. Here are ways to help your family stay on track with weight management:
Focus on getting healthy, not losing weight. Worrying too much about the scale can be frustrating and may make people want to quit. Comment to your kids how much better you feel when you make a healthy choice. For example, “I have much more energy after taking a walk.”
Involve the whole family. Singling out a child who needs to lose weight is ineffective and may cause the child to feel “picked on.” Even if other family members are at healthy weights, all can benefit from improved nutrition and exercise. Make it about everyone getting healthy, or it likely won’t happen at all.
Do something active every day. The goal is at least one hour daily. It doesn’t have to be all at once, and exercise doesn’t have to mean treadmills or weight rooms. Go ice skating. Take a family walk or bike ride. Even when the weather is nasty, there are indoor options. Crank up some music and have a dance party. If your children are watching TV, try the “commercial game.” Write down exercises (20 jumping jacks, 10 push-ups) on slips of paper and have each child select one during commercial breaks. This way, even “downtime” turns into a fun way to get moving.
Eat meals together. A recent study showed that eating one to two meals a week together as a family may cut obesity risk in half. Family meals usually contain more fruits and vegetables, whole grains and calcium than those eaten “on the run” or individually. Kids are busier than ever now, but make eating together a priority; even once a week makes a difference.
Avoid the middle of the grocery store. The perimeter of the store contains more fruits, vegetables and lean proteins, while the middle contains most of the calorie-dense snacks with little nutritional value. Staying away from the middle aisles can curb temptation before it starts.
Danielle Wiese, MD, specializes in pediatrics. She is a guest columnist located at Riley Physicians Pediatrics – Zionsville, 1650 W. Oak St., Ste. 210, in Zionsville. She can be reached by calling the office at 317.873.8855.