Stopping Obesity in its (Kid-Sized) Tracks
According to a recent study by the CDC, childhood obesity has more than tripled in the last 30 years. The cause? Health professionals look to current habits and environmental factors of today’s families — including sedentary lifestyles, consumption of processed foods and an imbalance in portion control, just to name a few. Susan Landgren, Registered Dietitian at the Portland Clinic, outlines how to recognize early signs of childhood obesity and how parents can help.
Early Signs of Childhood Obesity
Landgren recommends that parents first consult their child’s primary care physician around the age of 2 if they have any concerns with weight gain. “If parents are concerned that their child is overweight, there are a few key signs they can look for when worried about the potential for childhood obesity,” says Landgren.
These signs include:
- Child’s preferences: the child prefers more sedentary activities, including watching TV and playing video and computer games, than more active play.
- Excessive snacking: oftentimes, due to boredom, stress or while watching TV, the child eats unhealthy foods — including fried, processed or fast foods — excessively.
- Drinking their calories: the child drinks high-calorie beverages including soda pop, power drinks and Kool-Aid.
Tips for Preventing Childhood Obesity
Landgren and the pediatricians at the Portland Clinic have a list of golden rules for keeping families healthy and preventing childhood obesity. These rules include focusing on food and family, getting out and being active, and limiting screen time.
Food and Family
- Eat five or more servings of daily fruits and vegetables.
- Drink water and low- or nonfat milk.
- Enjoy family meals together.
- Make fast food and “junk food” a rare occasion at the table.
- Aim for one hour or more of physical activity or exercise, daily.
- Actively play with your kids.
- Keep combined screen time to 1-2 hours per day.
- Keep screens out of kids’ rooms.
- Reading or active play time equal to or more than time spent in front of the screen.
Landgren has helped develop the “Healthy Choices, Healthy Families” program at the Portland Clinic to lend a hand to local families trying create a healthier environment for their children. Each month for sixe months, the families receive a newsletter with tips and tools to track healthy living and food choices. In addition to the newsletters, the families have a monthly consultation with Landgren to ask questions and track progress, and can reach out to her at anytime for advice or guidance.
Families like that of Katie Newell of Portland have seen great progress with the program. Newell, a new mother, joined the “Healthy Choices, Healthy Families program” program to break away from her family’s normal habits and learn ways to incorporate exercise and healthy eating habits into their daily activities. “I learned new ways to make food fun and be a lot more creative in general,” says Newell, “We just had a daughter, so it was important for us to get a head start on leading a healthier life, together.”
Find out more about the Healthy Choices, Healthy Families program at the Portland Clinic.
Established in 1921, The Portland Clinic is Oregon’s oldest, private, multi-specialty medical group. Today, with sophisticated medical technology, modern spacious facilities and dynamic medical specialists, a personal approach to each patient’s good health remains the Portland Clinic’s primary focus. The Portland Clinic’s four locations serve the greater Portland metropolitan area and care for over 75,000 families each year throughout the Northwest.
For more information visit www.theportlandclinic.com.